Sunday 17th April. 1:30PM. Sky Sports 1
An explosive Premier League weekend includes fascinating matches like Norwich V Sunderland and Chelsea V Manchester City, but the headline event comes from the King Power as Leicester look to close in on the most spectacular story of the post-1992 era.
The Premier League title is within touching distance, but Claudio Ranieri’s men still have some work to do. Can they take a huge step by beating the Hammers?
There’s only one way to find out.
Foxes Fighting For Fairytale Ending
What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago, Leicester looked destined for relegation while Ranieri was licking the wounds left by the ill-fated spell in Greece. Now, though, the Foxes are just three wins away from completing the most incredible turnaround. But the Jamie Vardy party can’t get started just yet.
Leicester have been remarkable at the King Power, winning 10 and losing just one of their 16 matches so far. Vardy, the Premier League’s top scorer, was joined by N’golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist earlier this week. But in truth, this has been a huge squad effort and every member has played his part in the current run of six wins and a draw.
Earlier in the season, conceding goals looked destined to destroy Leicester’s chances. However, Kasper Schmeichel has now kept five clean sheets on the bounce and his defence has been protected perfectly by Kante and Danny Drinkwater. Once again, they’ll be heading into this one full of confidence, but with a huge desire to keep West Ham’s danger men quiet.
At this stage, it looks almost certain that Leicester will win the title. A win here would knock the sails out of Tottenham, who play on Monday night. If they do pick up the three points, they might as well crack open the champers.
Can Hammers Save Season?
In typical West Ham fashion, the dreams are starting to fade and die. Slaven Bilic’s men have still enjoyed a fantastic campaign, but three draws looks likely to cost them any hopes of joining Leicester in next season’s Champions League. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s FA Cup elimination has ended their hopes of lifting a trophy too.
Like Leicester, though, this is a team that has exceeded all expectations The signing of Dimitri Payet has been a revelation in the final year at Upton Park while the likes of Mark Noble, Michail Antonio, and Manuel Lanzini have all impressed.
Meanwhile, Andy Carroll’s return to goals gives the Hammers a real source of danger from crosses, which could be a key tactic against the leaders. If he performs anything like he did against Arsenal, the visitors will fancy their chances.
The Hammers will know how difficult the task will be. Nevertheless, they’ve already picked up wins at the Emirates, Etihad and Anfield along with draws against Chelsea and Manchester United. If they can provide one final away day scalp, their dream of Champions League football might just be back on.
Leicester City v West Ham United Betting
The league leaders are favourites to win a sixth game on the spin but Bet365’s odds of 19/20 suggest that it won’t be easy. West Ham, meanwhile, can be backed at 16/5. The draw is priced 13/5.
A win would be massive for Leicester, but it’s West Ham but simply must pick up three points. That need to attack could play into the home side’s hands, and we’re expecting Ranieri’s men to keep their run going.
However, West Ham can end Leicester’s run of clean sheets. We’re backing both teams to score, but think the Foxes fairytale will continue.
Leicester have had a number of crucial players this term, but Kante has been the one that’s given them the extra edge. The Frenchman will be tasked with keeping his compatriot, with whom he shares a birthday, quiet and we think he’ll do it.
If the Foxes do take this huge step towards the title, the 25-year-old will almost certainly play a huge role.