David Moyes’ first home game in charge of West Ham finished in a draw as they were held by Claude Puel’s Leicester City. The 1-1 scoreline was probably fair as neither side showed enough overall quality to win it. There was, however, plenty to take away from the showing at the London Stadium.
Here are five things we learnt from the Hammers’ 1-1 draw with the Foxes.
Five Things Learnt From West Ham vs Leicester
1. David Moyes Can Save This Team
It may not have been the most inspiring of performances but there was enough on show to see that West Ham are capable of competing in this league. The two wins acquired under Slaven Bilic had many fearing that relegation was on the cards for the first time since 2010/11.
Bilic was relieved of his duties after the club’s sixth loss of the season, a 4-1 home thrashing by Liverpool, and replaced almost immediately by David Moyes.
Moyes’ last spell as a manager was his well-documented tenure at Sunderland. West Ham fans will surely have been hoping he could emulate the success he had during his 11-year spell at Everton rather than his nightmare season in the North East.
There was very little Premier League talent in that Sunderland squad. However, he had it in abundance at times during his Everton years. That is why he could be the man to save West Ham’s season. He has quality in his team, which was shown tonight in performances from Marko Arnautovic and Cheikhou Kouyate, and the clear quality possessed by Manuel Lanzini.
It may only be a point, and it may still be six games without a win for the Hammers, but the performances are there. The connection between the fans is coming back. There was far more energy than previously. These factors can only be improved by the discipline that David Moyes will instil into this team.
2. The West Ham Defence Needs Some Bolstering
While there can be no doubt this was an improved West Ham performance, there remains a big question mark over some of their defending. Angelo Ogbonna was the big culprit tonight as his mistake allowed Marc Albrighton to give Leicester the lead, but the overall shape that the back-line had at times was nothing short of shambolic.
The goal will certainly be looked back on in any of West Ham’s future training sessions because it is something they will not want to repeat. Firstly, Pablo Zabaleta was dragged out of position, allowing Jamie Vardy the space to cross. Winston Reid and Ogbonna were also sat too deep, meaning they played Vardy onside and were out of position when dealing with his cross. Ogbonna then allowed the cross to slip right under his foot, and Albrighton charged into the box to slot past Joe Hart.
Ogbonna and Reid had a particularly poor night tonight. They are both good defenders in their own right. Whether they can work together effectively is beginning to be questioned, though. Do not be surprised if a defender comes in to either cover or replace one of them in January.
3. The Hammers Need To Improve On Their Slow Starts
It is well noted that West Ham have not adapted to life in their new ground. Their struggles have continued into this campaign too, however, it appears it affects that only at certain points of games.
The Hammers are becoming notorious for their slow starts in home games now, as in their 24 games at the London Stadium, they have scored just six first-half goals, one of which came in tonight’s draw. They have a shooting accuracy of just 27% in the same period, giving them a woeful conversion rate of 3%.
Perhaps a dip into the transfer market in January would not go amiss. Anything that can improve on that record, whether it is a goalscorer or a goal creator, would be a welcome addition to Moyes’ team.
4. Leicester Still Cannot Defend Set Pieces
Leicester’s vulnerability from set pieces is a huge problem for Claude Puel. While he has had little time to fix it, it has to be high on his priority list after neither Claudio Ranieri or Craig Shakespeare could fix it.
During their title-winning campaign of 2015/16, the Foxes conceded 21 goals from set-pieces, the second highest in the league, one behind Tottenham. This stat improved significantly in 2016/17, decreasing to 13, giving them a place of 16th in that respect.
This season, however, it has gone back to the level of 2015/16. No team has conceded more goals that Leicester from corners so far this season. This is a total of six (level with Watford) and the sixth came tonight.
Marko Arnautovic’s corner was poorly dealt with by Kasper Schmeichel, who initially came for the ball but changed his mind. Cheikhou Kouyate then climbed above the Leicester defence and headed in despite the efforts of Danny Simpson to clear it off the line.
This is no doubt the weakest area of Leicester’s. It is hard to understand why due to the height of their defence, but it is something Puel needs to address quickly. Otherwise, a January transfer may be needed for his side too.
5. Claude Puel Has Steadied This Leicester Side
Craig Shakespeare was given the near-impossible task of emulating Claudio Ranieri’s success as Leicester boss. He impressed the Leicester board enough to begin this season as manager but the poor start suffered by his side resulted in his sacking in mid-October.
Shakespeare’s Leicester had just one win from his seven games this season, losing four and drawing two of the remaining six. Since the arrival of Claude Puel, though, the Foxes have lost just once. This came against Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City last weekend.
The steadying of this Leicester team was evident tonight too. Playing in an enormous stadium in a manager’s first home game in charge, it was going to be a tough ask for Puel’s side to come away with a win. However, aside from the goal, they rarely looked threatened by West Ham.
They were dominant for the opening 20 minutes, the period in which Albrighton opened the scoring, and while they had fewer shots in the game, they edged their opponents in terms of possession. They also won 75% of their tackles, showing a defensive resilience that was not there in Shakespeare’s tenure.