West Ham can't recover from poor start against Leicester City
West Ham threw everything at Leicester City in an exciting second half at the London Stadium, but were unable to overturn a poor defensive first 45 minutes. The Foxes 3-2 win was their first away victory in the league since last April and heaps more home grief on Slaven Bilic's stumbling team.
Kasper Schmeichel kept Leicester from dropping points in a superb display as the Hammers piled on huge pressure. Ultimately though, West Ham lost the game in a torrid seven-minute opening spell when the defence went missing as Riyad Mahrez and Robert Huth scored. No sooner had Manuel Lanzini halved the deficit with a Payet-style free kick, than Leicester restored the two-goal lead through Jamie Vardy, who made the most of another rearguard no-show.
It was all West Ham after the break and Andre Ayew gave the home crowd hope just after the hour, but Leicester held firm as Schmeichel made two superb saves -- the 90th minute stop from Andy Carroll was world class.
Some fans will bemoan the difficulties settling into their new home but, as the atmosphere in the second half showed, its the inadequacies in the team that are more of a threat for West Ham than any perceived problems in the London Stadium.
An outstanding second-half performance could and should have bought an equaliser.
A game lasts for 90 minutes not 45 and a hapless defensive performance in the first period gave the team too much to do.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Slaven Bilic made some much-needed changes that might have worked better had his plans not been outdone by some individual errors. The manager at least inspired his players after the break.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Darren Randolph, 5 -- Randolph has been able to point to some defensive lapses in front of him in recent games, but he was at fault against Leicester. Ultimately there's a suspicion that the Irish keeper can't command his area in the same way that Schmeichel did to keep his own side in the game. Randolph reacted poorly to Mahrez's cross that turned into a goal and shouldn't be allowing whipped-in corners to go bobbing around the six-yard box as it did for Leicester's third. Made a good save late on to deny Leicester a fourth, though.
DF Sam Byram, 6 -- Byram balanced the side better in his natural right-back role and the former Leeds player was heavily involved going forward in the second half. Worth persevering with.
DF Jose Fonte, 5 -- Was nowhere for any of Leicester's goals and always seems to be behind the play.
DF Winston Reid, 4 -- Had to go off after only 18 minutes so had no time to redeem himself for the catastrophic opening seven minutes.
DF Aaron Cresswell, 5 -- Defended poorly and couldn't seem to get any decent crosses in. Was replaced by Arthur Masuaku and the Frenchman was instantly able to show what was missing. Cresswell will need to improve quickly on this showing.
MF Cheikhou Kouyate, 6 -- Started in midfield as all Hammers fans like to see but then had to move back in defence to cover Reid's injury. Made some timely interceptions but also gave the ball away too much.
MF Pedro Obiang, 6 -- Worked hard in midfield but was worryingly carried off just after the hour.
MF Andre Ayew, 7 -- Scored a goal but was also guilty of a shocking miss when one-on-one with Schmeichel.
MF Manuel Lanzini, 8 -- A delightful free kick to put his team back in the game at 2-1, Lanzini was always a threat and the outstanding outfield performer.
MF Michail Antonio, 7 -- Played well in a slightly wider role.
FW Andy Carroll, 7 -- On another day, Carroll could have had a goal or two to his name. Battled hard; the Leicester centre-backs knew they had been in a game.
MF Robert Snodgrass, 5 -- Perhaps surprisingly, Snodgrass replaced the injured Reid early on but the midfielder doesn't seem to be settling in the team and was largely anonymous.
DF Arthur Masuaku, N/R -- On for Cresswell after 73 minutes, Masuaku provided enough dangerous crosses to suggest he should have been on earlier.
MF Edimilson Fernandes, 7 -- On for Obiang on 67 minutes and was able to help keep the pressure on Leicester.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.