Five things we loved about West Ham's win over Leicester
1. ‘Team has no significant weaknesses’
Respected football analytics website WhoScored.com’s summary of West Ham United’s performance in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Leicester City summed it up in the following five words: ‘Team has no significant weaknesses’
The switch to a 5-4-1 formation has made the Hammers an efficient, resilient counter-attacking machine capable of creating and taking chances against any opposition.
Despite having a little over 30% possession and completing just 70% of their passes at King Power Stadium, the Irons created 14 goal attempts, taking three of them, while restricting the Foxes to four goal attempts, none of them on target.
At the attacking end of the pitch, the Hammers were clinical, with Michail Antonio continuing his outstanding form with a tenth goal in the last eleven Premier League matches, Pablo Fornals scoring one fine goal and creating another, and Jarrod Bowen making it three goals in his last two top-flight appearances with a trademark left-foot finish.
Defensively, to a man, every West Ham player was immense, giving everything to close down their opponents, winning every individual battle and deservedly shutting out a Leicester side who had themselves beaten Manchester City, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion in their opening three matches, scoring 12 goals in the process.
2. Antonio’s happy travels
Michail Antonio is in the goalscoring form of his life – and that form shows no signs of abating.
The No30 has now scored ten goals in his last eleven Premier League matches dating back to mid-July, with all ten coming in either victories or draws for his side.
Eight of the ten have come in West Ham’s last five away matches, including four at Norwich City in July, to match a record set by Mike Small in the old First Division back in October/November 1991.
Antonio’s latest strike was also his 38th in the Premier League, taking him above Trevor Sinclair into fourth place in the Club’s all-time list. He is now just nine short of Paolo Di Canio’s all-time record of 47.
Exactly half of those 38 goals have been scored with his head, and the 30-year-old showed his expertise in that area with another well-placed finish past Kasper Schmeichel.
3. Czech mates impress
Slavia Prague’s loss has most certainly been true in the case of Tomáš Souček, whose tireless midfield play has been a constant theme since his arrival in January.
And it looks like the same will be the case with Souček’s former Slavia teammate, compatriot and close friend Vladimír Coufal.
The right wing-back was quite simply brilliant on his West Ham debut, defending strongly, showing great game awareness to make vital interventions and supporting the attack intelligently.
Coufal made three tackles, including two important challenges to halt Jamie Vardy and Harvey Barnes inside the Irons’ penalty area, three interceptions and three clearances.
He also provided two key passes, setting up chances for Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio.
His old pal Souček was at it again at Leicester, too, making a team-high four tackles, four interceptions and four clearances and winning a team-high seven aerial battles.
4. Fantastic Fornals
Like many players who arrive in the Premier League from overseas, Pablo Fornals took a period of time to settle into the intensity of the English game.
But the former Villarreal attacking midfielder is now established as a regular starter wide on the left and showing why he won his first Spain cap at the age of 20 and why he starred as his country won the 2019 UEFA European U21 Championship.
Fornals added to the assist he provided for Jarrod Bowen’s opener in the 4-0 win over Wolves by repeating the trick with a perfectly timed through ball for the same player to score West Ham’s third in Sunday’s victory at Leicester.
And, what’s more, the 24-year-old also found the net himself, taking down Aaron Cresswell’s clearance with a sublime first touch before holding his composure to finish low past Kasper Schmeichel with his left foot.
5. Aaron’s assists
After waiting 37 games since registering his last Premier League assist, they came along like London busses for Aaron Cresswell.
Nineteen months after setting up his last goal against Huddersfield Town in March 2019, his wand-like left foot created two in the space of 20 minutes at Leicester.
The first was a trademark cross from deep, swinging onto the head of Michail Antonio at the far post.
The second was more unusual but no less effective as a long, punted clearance into the Leicester half was controlled and finished by Pablo Fornals.
The two assists took Cresswell onto 20 for his West Ham career, ahead of Dimitri Payet and into fourth the Irons’ all-time Premier League list.
Not bad for a centre-back!