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  • Mon, 12 Apr 2021 13:25:46 +0000: Bielsa pips Pep as United beat City, plus using xG in Scrabble – Football Weekly - West Ham United | The Guardian

    Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Wilson and Barney Ronay to discuss Leeds’ win at Manchester City and the race for the top four

    We start at the Etihad Stadium as Leeds become the first promoted team in 13 years to win away at a team that sits top of the Premier League. What level of credit does Bielsa deserve for the performances we’ve seen by Leeds this year?

    We then move on to the battle for the Champions League as Manchester United, West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool all win to further their chances. Could Leicester pay a heavy price after three of their key players missed the defeat at the London Stadium following a Covid-19 related breach?

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  • Mon, 12 Apr 2021 07:00:57 +0000: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action - West Ham United | The Guardian

    Rodgers prizes discipline over principle, Martinelli cheers up Arsenal while Guardiola’s reserves let him down

    Manchester United are highly familiar with a José Mourinho team riding their luck against them. A key moment in his rise to prominence was Porto’s 2004 triumph at Old Trafford, where Paul Scholes had a goal chalked off for offside. The simmering rage on Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s face when Edinson Cavani’s “opener” was wiped away by VAR echoed Sir Alex Ferguson 17 years ago, and nine years after that when the disputed dismissal of Nani handed Mourinho’s Real Madrid a passage into the Champions League quarter-finals. A United team containing many of Mourinho’s former players will have been familiar with Tottenham’s botched blueprint to stay in touch with the top four. Keeping shape in defence and midfield was the bedrock for the brilliance with which Lucas Moura set up Son Heung-min to score. But unlike those Porto and Madrid teams, this Spurs team does not have the same resilience or quality to exploit good fortune. John Brewin

    Related: Devilish Solskjær deals fiendish blow to Spurs’ Champions League hopes | Louise Taylor

    Related: Liverpool can live with Mohamed Salah’s misses but not without his hits | Sachin Nakrani

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  • Sun, 11 Apr 2021 16:35:00 +0000: Rodgers drops Leicester’s Maddison, Choudhury and Pérez for Covid breach - West Ham United | The Guardian
    • Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers ‘bitterly disappointed’
    • Trio miss West Ham defeat but will return for FA Cup semi-final

    Brendan Rodgers said he was “bitterly disappointed” with James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Pérez after dropping them for Leicester’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham for a breach of Covid-19 protocols.

    Rodgers took a dim view of the breach, which took place last weekend and surely ends Maddison’s slim hopes of making England’s European Championship squad. The Leicester manager stressed that some things are “bigger than football” and although he promised the trio would return for the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton next Sunday he had no regrets about leaving them out against West Ham, who took fourth place off Chelsea with a resilient win.

    Related: Jesse Lingard’s double sinks Leicester and fuels West Ham’s top-four dreams

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  • Sun, 11 Apr 2021 15:32:29 +0000: West Ham 3-2 Leicester City: Premier League – as it happened - West Ham United | The Guardian

    Jesse Lingard scored twice before West Ham resisted a Leicester City comeback to regain fourth place, one point behind Leicester

    Related: Rodgers drops Leicester’s Maddison, Choudhury and Pérez for Covid breach

    I guess that’s about us. That was a really fun game – for the neutral – and at the end of it, West Ham and Jesse Lingard match on. Thanks all for your company and comments – ta-ra.

    Here’s Jacob Steinberg’s match report.

    Related: Jesse Lingard’s double sinks Leicester and fuels West Ham’s dreams

    Looking at the table, a win for Manchester United at Spurs today, and they’re surely impregnable in second place. Behind them, though, should Spurs in this afternoon, they’ll be three points behind West Ham and four behind Leicester, with Chelsea and Liverpool in between them. I’ve no idea how this will pan out, but if I was Brendan Rodgers I’d be bricking it.

    From earlier today:

    Related: Allan Saint-Maximin delivers blazing cameo as Newcastle beat Burnley

    Who else?! ⚒️

    Jesse Lingard is on fire! He puts West Ham ahead with a clever finish.

    Watch on Sky Sports PL
    Follow #WHULEI here: https://t.co/sIxZE7PBWa
    Download the @SkySports app! pic.twitter.com/52NBhsJGgG

    West Ham, though. What an incredible season they’re having, and what an incredible job David Moyes has done and is doing. There’s an idea that football progresses, and in a way it does, but stuff that worked 10 years ago will still work now ... if you’ve got the right manager and the right players. West Ham have that, and that’s why we’re seeing what we’re seeing: solid defence, pace out wide, some attacking flair and lots of effort. It can be a complex game if you want it to be, but it can also be a simple game and that will never change.

    Elsewhere, the teams are warming up at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Manchester United are the visitors. Rob Smyth will coax you through that one.

    Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

    That was an extremely enjoyable affair, as Deidre Barlow said to Mike Baldwin. Leicester will know that, though they came close to taxing a point, they played nowhere near well enough for one and will need to improve if they’re to do improve on last season’s league finish, never mind win the cup. They’ll be better with Maddison back, but I can’t help but wonder if the need to pick Vardy is holding them back.

    More news as we get it.

    A breathless, coruscating, intense match finally finishes, and West Ham are back above Liverpool and Chelsea in fourth place, a point behind Leicester who remain third. There’s a lot going on here.

    90+6 min A West Ham head flicks it beyond the back post but the ball comes back and Fofana’s up! But he heads wide! That’s surely it?!

    90+6 min This is magnificent, pure, uncut, Barclays and Leicester win another corner! Back comes Schmeichel!

    90+5 min “One minute” Moyes signals form the touchline; “I’ve seen that before,” ruminates Alan Smith.

    McMahon signalling there’s one minute left… #89TheFilm pic.twitter.com/St0dkaCiqb

    90+4 min But West Ham get it away while, on the touchline, a livid Moe Szyslak David Moyes screams and waves his backline forward.

    90+4 min Schmeichel comes forward for it....

    90+3 min It’s a weird one this, because there’s been no onslaught. Leicester have huffed and puffed but not created much ... and yet here we are. In the stands, Declan Rice is all over the place, and Leicester win a corner!

    Albrighton, who’s been lively since coming on, takes up another good position down the right and sticks another good ball into the middle. It kicks off Masuaku and bounces beautifully into the path of the onrushing Iheanachi, who underlines his burgeoning relevance by snapping into a terrific finish, on the burst and on the league. Are West Ham going to westham it again?

    90 min There’ll be six additional minutes.

    89 min Alan Smith picks Bowen as his man of the match, partly because he can’t be arsed giving it Lingard again. I can’t quibble with that too much given how well he played, but he the key and decisive contributions were not his.

    88 min Hello! Albrighton takes a lovely touch to control the ball just outside the box, right-hand side, and diddles both Balbuena and Masuaku ... but runs out of space, the latter coming back to rob him from behind.

    87 min Thomas hits a long, straight ball seeking Vardy, but Fabiaski, who’s been quietly excellent today, is right on the edge of his box and ready to collect.

    85 min I wonder if Rodgers has missed a trick in playing Tielemans so deep. When Leicester have more players available, having someone with his creativity in front of the back four is a huge advantage, but with so little in front of him, I think he might be best deployed nearer the opponent’s goal.

    84 min Now Benrahma gets his chance, on for Bowen who’s had a really good afternoon. I like him a lot - he’s positive, strong and not scared, a typical Moyes player.

    84 min Leicester win a corner down the right which Albrighton swings out, but Fellaini Soucek heads clear.

    82 min Johnson replaces Noble, who Moyes will be desperate to get patched up for Newcastle away next Saturday.

    80 min A fine reverse-pass from Tielemans sends Ricardo into the box and he’s one-on-one with the keeper! But his first touch forces him to go around Fabianski, who does brilliantly to insert an arm, poking the ball away. VAR has a look but the challenge was fine.

    79 min Said Benrahma has been waiting to come on for a while - I think that’s a good change because West Ham need to keep their attacking threat not invite pressure. But he’s then told to sit down, with Johnson asked to ready himself instead.

    78 min Noble goes off to stand at the side, but West Ham get the corner away without him. Noble must’ve landed on an arm because he’s walking with a sort of limp on his right side, letting it dangle by his side.

    76 min Leicester push again, Tielemans driving a shot from the edge of the box in front of which Noble flings his frame. He stays down for a while, whitewash from the line all over his phizog, but hell be fine I think. It’s no more than what Ronnie, Reggie and Gary Hobbs would’ve done, all of whom love their old mum.

    75 min “I have been talking up Robert Caro for decades,” returns Mary Waltz, “and very few people here in the States have taken me up on it. Never thought a UK football website would be the place where someone would take me up on my recommendation. If you like the Power Broker you will be floored with Caro’s LBJ series. It reveals the beauty and the horror of America in one man.”

    Yup, I actually first came to Caro via David Runciman’s essential Talking Politics pod, and referred to it in a blog which is how we got to Caro. One day, I hope to get to it’s 5,902 volumes.

    73 min Bowen drives over halfway and Ndidi, who’s already been booked, trips him. I don’t want every foul to be a yellow card, but I’m extremely unsure how that - cynical and late – isn’t worth one.

    72 min I said it earlier, but Iheanacho is developing from poacher to player in front of our eyes. He’s been Leicester’s liveliest and likeliest today, again.

    Well then! Ricardo nashes in on Masuaku and robs him then finds Iheanacho, who does really well to adjust feet as the ball’s on its way, also suggesting that he’ll let it run across him and move across the face of the box. But instead he slaps a rasper past Dawson and Fabianksi, and do we got ourselves a ball-game?

    69 min Albrighton drives a ball towards the far post but Vardy can make nothing of it. I’m being wise after the event, but I wonder if he’s got to start given the aforementioned absences and two strikers needing serving.

    68 min Those injuries were especially cruel as both men were playing better than they’d ever done before.

    67 min Leicester had a good few minutes but couldn’t create much, and West Ham have righted themselves. A goal for the visitors would still liven things up, but it’s not looking especially likely – they’re missing the craft of Maddison and incision of Barnes badly.

    65 min West Ham win a free-kick 30 yards out, left of centre with Noble and Lingard behind him; good luck, Mark old mate. Shonuff, he quickly moves away and the man of the month flips a tasty-looking searcher to the back post, where Schmeichel does well to collect on the leap.

    63 min “Pep or Klopp’s high press attack, attack attack,” says Mary Waltz. “Or Jose’s low block score a goal, strangling out the rest of the game, joyless yet silverware producing master tactics? Or how about the neanderthal bash it down route one and run like hell and knock in the goal? It makes for a very short book but today it looks like a genius tactic.”

    I think that’s harsh on Moyes - the way he’s deployed his attacking players but Lingard in particular, has been very smart. When you watch West Ham play, you can see they know what they’re doing.

    62 min Leicester win a corner down the left which makes its way over to Ndidi on the far side of the box. His first attempt at controlling it is poor, but he regains possession and from 10 yards out, swipes a decent opportunity over the bar.

    60 min I wonder if, with Maddison and Perez back, Leicester will revert to 4-3-3. If they do, there’ll need to be a decision made about Vardy, who’s not paying well enough to keep his place but who remains likely to score at Wembley.

    59 min Leicester send on Albrighton for Praet.

    59 min Leicester look more dangerous now than at any other time in the match, which of course leaves them in danger of conceding again on the counter. Meantime, we see a replay of Dawson accidentally catching Vardy; no pen, says VAR.

    57 min Leicester really need to get a hold of themselves here, because a proper tumping would be catastrophic for them – not just for their league prospects but for their cup semi next weekend. Southampton is no gimme, but you’d take it if offered.

    56 min “Just come from the garden to the MBM,” brags Geoff Wignall, “and re, ‘ ... Lingard, who snaps it from around his right arse-cheek – it’s slightly behind him – on the half-volley ...’ - do you mean he hit it on the bounce or was he sitting on his arse ? A half volley being as the ball bounces, as per a rugby drop kick and as used in tennis, cricket and, well everything.”

    I mean he hit it on the bounce.

    Diop was a good chunk of body offside.

    West Ham take a free-kick quickly, out to Lingard down the right, and he jigs about on his his dancing feet before picking out Diop at the far post who heads across Schmeichel and in off the post. The ref gives it, but I think it’ll be disallowed for offside.

    53 min I wonder how much money West Ham will have to give Man United for Lingard, in addition to Declan Rice.

    53 min Nope, Cresswell is jiggered, so Balbuena replaces him.

    51 min “I can’t allow West Ham to take the title of everyone’s favourite second team away from homelyTM Fulham and the iconicTM Cottage,” says Richard Hirst. “Especially not West Ham, who I’ve never forgiven for the 1975 Cup Final.”

    I think affection for Fulham is basically affection for the ground and boozers in its locale. I’m not sure there’s much footballing basis to it.

    50 min Cresswell goes down after winning a header with apparent hamstring grief sustained on landing. But the physio treats it like it’s cramp, so hopefully he’ll be good to carry on.

    Well! Masuaku wins the ball high when Iheancho’s touch is heavy and he finds Lingard at inside-left. A touch to control and a pass inside for Soucek; a touch to control and a pass inside for Bowen; a touch to control and pass past Schmeichel. They’ve worked and taken that absolutely beautifully, and this is o-v-e-r.

    47 min Ah, it does indeed seem like Leicester have gone to a back four, thomas at left-back with Ricardo in front of Castagne on the right. Blame Alan Smith.

    46 min Ndidi clatters Bowen late and high; he’s booked, making it five yellow cards, all of them for tackles.

    46 min Nope, still a back three.

    46 min We go again.

    Leicester send on Luke Thomas for Daniel Amartey. My guess is that they’ll go to a back four too, but let’s see.

    “Been following football for 40 years,” says Niall O’Keefe, “and it seems to me many fans adopt West Ham as their second team. Not sure why but they always play nice football and have produced top talent from Lampard to Rio. I took the boat and train to London from Ireland when I was 15 to see my team Man Utd at Upton Park. Back then you could buy a ticket on the day. It was very rowdy in the ground and I happened to end up in the West Ham terrace/end. I had a United (Manchester) scarf on but was deemed too young to get roughed up. Good memory and go on the Hammers.”

    “The Power Broker IS a terrific read,” says Mark Childs. “I thought it was almost tragic how Moses started off as an idealistic young man corrupted by the very methods he used to initially succeed. Hmm, wonder if Caro knows about Jose?”

    Trudat. Mourinho has, at least as far as I see it, allowed his negative characteristics to consume his positive ones. Even if he never wins another match he’s still an all-time great, but his determination to play a particular way – which can still work – regardless of how it suits his players – is killing him.

    I wrote this about Lingard almost four years ago to the day. I don’t get many right, but I think this might still ring true now.

    Half-time email: “Just arrived late at the party (sorry, but I had to wipe the tears away),” says Richard Hirst, “and saw your comment about Fulham. Yes, as your friend and mine said, It’s all over now baby blue.”

    You lose yourself, you reappear
    You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
    Alone you stand with nobody near
    When a trembling distant voice, unclear
    Startles your sleeping ears to hear
    That somebody thinks they really found you.

    What a half for Westam; what a half for Jesse Lingard! They’re set to go back into fourth, just a point behind Leicester in third, unless Brendan’s men can come up with something very much better than what we’ve just seen. The second half should be a belter.

    45+1 min Fofana is late on Bowen and is booked.

    45 min There’ll be two added minutes.

    45 min There’s a VAR check to see whether Bowen went too early, but it looks good to me and yup, it’s a goal. Leicester will be as concerned as Mr Kipling makes good cakes.

    And there it is! He’s done it again! A long, straight ball from Diop, down the inside-right channel to Bowen ... and he’s in! Schmeichel comes out to meet him, he squares, and there’s the absolute man about town to tap in! That’s eight goals in nine games!

    42 min Jamie Vardy is offering very little at the moment. It seems unlikely that he’s suddenly lost it at 34, but this is probably the worst period he’s had since breaking through.

    40 min “I wasn’t following the game,” emails Charles Antaki, “but somewhere on the astral plane I picked up your charitable formulation ‘If Arsenal win the Europa League’. That got my attention, but only to then turn away with a rueful shake of the head and a hollow chuckle.”

    I’d still not be surprised were that to happen. They’re good enough to win in Prague, though perhaps too Arsenal not to lose to Unai Emery’s Villarreal, and they’re more than capable of beating whoever comes through the other half of the draw.

    37 min Leicester have improved since the goal, Iheancho taking the ball off Ndidi and playing a one-two with Tielemans before driving a shot that’s blocked behind by Dawson. The corner comes to nothing, but here come West Ham on the counter! Bowen finds Lingard down the right who moves on to Coufal, but this time when the return arrives behind him – and it’s not the best option either - it gets caught under his feet and Schmeichel saves easily enough. But there’s the problem Leicester now face: every time they commit men forward, they do exactly what West Ham are set up for them to do.

    35 min “What a lovely goal,” says Mary Waltz. “West Ham, Moyes and Lingard are the best resurrection stories of this season. If my Everton can’t make it into the top four I am rooting for the Hammers to do it.”

    Yup. We often don’t acknowledge that most managers fail in most jobs and hardly any succeed in all of them, so doing badly for a bit doesn’t mean that you’re no good. Moyes is perfect for West Ham because he knows how to organise a defensive effort and he isn’t mistrustful of flair, it’s just not his first concern.

    34 min “Today’s game is definitely one of those where David Moyes fears going ahead,” says Stephen Carr.

    I know what you mean, but I actually think West Ham have been pushing the pace, and though I wouldn’t say a goal looked inevitable, I’m not surprised that it came.

    33 min Ricardo stops a counter with a foul, on whom I did not see. He’s booked.

    32 min Jesse Expletive Lingard, though. What’s great about him is that he isn’t scared and never hides – he believes in his talent and there’s lots of it, which allows him to impose it as he’s doing. And he doesn’t take it, himself or the game too seriously, even though he knows how serious it all; that’s not easily done.

    30 min Cresswell ploughs through ball and Ndidi; he’s booked.

    JESEE LINGARD! JESSE LINGARD! JESSE LINGARD! He prompts nicely in midfield, the ball going wide to Masuaku, who draws in Ricardo and dahses by, curling a terrific cross through the corrido or uncertainty. Bowen retrieves it beyond the far post and clips a pass back to Lingard, who snaps it from around his right arse-cheek – it’s slightly behind him – on the half-volley and past Schmeichel at his near post! What a ridiculous run of form this is!

    28 min Lingard is prompting nicely EXCUSE ME WHILE I INTERRUPT MYSELF!

    27 min Nice from West Ham, Noble and Lingard tipping it about in centrefield before the latter turns nicely to open things up, finding Fornals down the left, Immediately, he swerves a cross in for Soucek who’s been quiet so far, but Fofana gets up well and wears a belt to the throat before the ref belatedly blows up.

    24 min Nice from West Ham, Fornals turning a throw over the top and down the channel into Bowen, on the half-volley. Those kind of quick passes are what they need to break Leicester down, but this time the flag goes up.

    24 min Tielemans picks a pass into Vardy, who has options, but decides to turn into a shot from the edge of the box that’s easily fielded by Fabianski.

    22 min Thing is, every time they go forward, they look an attacker short. They’ve not got loads on the bench and it might be that David Moyes would accept a point, but I wonder if Benrahma will appear sooner rather than later.

    21 min Slowly but perceptibly, West Ham are asserting themselves.

    20 min Nice from Lingard, who turns adroitly and slips a pass out to Masuaku down the left. His cross is a goodun too, just too far in front of Bowen, who slides after it in any case and sees himself colliding with the post well in advance without being able to prevent it from happening. He’s fine.

    19 min Bowen picks up Amartey’s careless pass and drives towards the box, but only Lingard is up in the support and the pass is behind him – though had it not been, he’d have been surrounded by 629 defenders in any case.

    17 min Iheanacho peels into space down the left and crosses low, but Dawson, back in familiar territory, does well to intercede before the ball reaches Vardy.

    16 min West Ham win a corner down the left and their shtarkers gather, Dawson first to the outswinging ball. But he can only head into the air, and Schmeichel gathers easily enough.

    15 min Back to Mary Waltz’s email, I say this every time she sends one in, but on Europa League Thursday night, she recommended the Power Broker, Robert Caro’s magisterial biography of Robert Moses. If you’re interested in power and personality, seek it out.

    14 min Leicester look the livelier side and when Vardy slides a ball into the box, Coufal makes a mess of it, but Praet slips at the crucial juncture and eventually Fabianski collects.

    12 min “Chelsea could win the Champions League,” reckons Mary Waltz. “I wouldn’t bet on it but possible. Arsenal winning the Europa competition? Absolutely not.”

    I actually think Arsenal are more likely to win the Europa than Chelsea the Champions League – they match-up well with Man United, who’re the best side left in that competition, whereas Chelsea will have to beat Real Madrid (probably) then Man City, PSG or Bayern Munich (probably).

    10 min Eeesh! Noble’s poor pass sets Soucek a dilemma: does he scythe in on Tielemans to try and retrieve possession? Of course he does, landing a right sair yin on the metatarsal area. Much higher and he’s off, but a yellow is just about right, disbursed with customary flare by Lil Mikey Dean.

    9 min More Leicester possession, but to little avail.

    7 min Bit of possession for Leicester, knocking it about before a long one from Evans is won by Cresswell, climbing all over Iheancho, who’s first to the loose ball and lashes a rise wide of the near post. You can almost see his confidence seeping through the screen, which is great. He had the goalscorer’s knack at City – where’s Iheanacho, oh there, goal – but his all-round game has improved so much over the last year or so.

    6 min Yup, Bowen and Lingard are split, with Fornals pushing on in between them. That might be hard to mark, but it might also be hard to get the ball held up.

    6 min Cresswell humps one in and Soucek is lurking but Fofana gets it away.

    4 min Lingard looks to be playing off the left and Bowen off the right, as split strikers I think. Meantime, Iheanacho picks up a loose ball and drags a form shot straight at Fabianski.

    3 min Lingard and Ndidi wait under a high ball, the latter catching the former with a sharp elbow. There’s a brief pause, but Lingard is fine.

    2 min West Ham win a free-kick down the right between box and touchline; this is dangerous, especially given how good they are set-pieces. But Bowen’s delivery picks out Evans and he heads clear.

    1 min Away you go, as the late, greatRon Pickering was fond of saying.

    The players take a knee and Jesse Lingard shows a black power fist. All black lives matter, people.

    There’s going to be a minute’s silence for Prince Philip.

    Good news for Leicester: Maddison and Perez should be back next week.

    The boyz are baized.

    Mark Noble makes his 400th appearance for West Ham today. Here’s his finest moment.

    Newcastle have won at Burnley – Fulham are in big, big trouble, six points behind them with a game in hand. I don’t see how they come back now, well though Scott E. Parker has done since that terrible start.

    Looking at the teams again, my guess is that Leicester look to spread the play – both Ricardo and Castagne have loads to offer going forward – while West Ham look to keep things central. But in the absence of Barnes and Maddison, there’s a large creative burden on Tielemans, because Praet is still feeling his way back from injury and hasn’t convinced consistently. I think I’m talking myself into predicting a goalless draw.

    No doubt I’ll regret saying this, but I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m not sure it’ll be much of a spectacle – West Ham aren’t big into that and don’t really have the players at the moment, while Leicester will be feart of committing too many men forward. But the stakes are so high as to compel us anyway.

    “As a Liverpool fan, I suppose a draw would be the best result,” muses Mike MacKenzie, “or perhaps a Foxes win to dent West Ham’s hopes more? Decisions, decisions...”

    Yes, I’d go with the latter if I were you – assume the battle is for fourth and that the top three are gone, though that might not be the case. I actually think that, though, that fourth won’t be enough if Arsenal win the Europa League or Chelsea win the Champions League and finish outside the top four in so doing as no club can have more than five teams in the competition. I’m not sure what happens if both of those those things happen.

    Elsewhere, the glorious Allan Saint-Maximin has hauled Newcastle back from 1-0 down to Burnley, making a beauty and scoring a beauty. Can they Newcastle it up from here? Join Rob Smyth for the closing stages.

    Related: Burnley v Newcastle: Premier League – live!

    I enjoyed this from Pablo Fornals on West Ham’s official site: “I’m really good at ludo! This lockdown I used to play with my friends every day and every night! It’s a popular game in Spain, so we used to play a lot. I have a proper board and everything, so even when I am in Spain I used to play with my friends and we are punished when we lose and these things! It’s a game but it makes you ready to compete at everything!”

    First of all, has ludo usurped tiddlywinks as the game one uses to prove one will do anything to win, second of all is it even possible to be good at ludo, and third of all, when it comes to the Irons, Ludo means only one thing.

    Leicester, meanwhile, leave out Albrighton and Perez following their defeat to Man City, bringing in Praet and Ricardo. They’ve been using 3-5-2 a fair bit lately, partly, I imagine, because Iheanacho is playing too well to leave out and Vardy is too Vardy to leave out. But I reckon Brendan Rodgers is keen to match-up West Ham because when that happens, the team with the better players usually wins.

    West Ham make one change from their impressive win at Wolves last time out, Bowen coming in for the injured Antonio. My guess is that Masuaku will play on the left of a back five, with Soucek and Noble in front of that; I’m not quite sure how Lingard, Fornals and Bowen will then be configured, but I imagine they’ll run around and such.

    West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Soucek,
    Noble, Fornals, Lingard, Masuaku, Bowen. Subs: Balbuena,
    Benrahma, Alves, Fredericks, Martin, Johnson, Trott, Odubeko,
    Coventry.

    Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Fofana, Ricardo Pereira,
    Tielemans, Ndidi, Castagne, Praet, Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs:
    Albrighton, Ward, Mendy, Fuchs, Thomas, Leshabela,
    Daley-Campbell, Tavares, Suengchitthawon.

    Football is a chaotic game, 22 shtarkers chasing a little ball about a field. So, much as the human psyche seeks to ascribe then package what happens to one definitive aspect, the reality tends to be hazier, all manner of different things – some of them operating without our knowledge, oh the effrontery – combining haphazardly to produce a particular outcome.

    As such, the notion that Leicester choked in ceding a Champions League spot last season is tough to interrogate. It is true that they performed poorly in the run-in, but it is also true that they were ravaged by injury, and who can say how much they were affected by simple tiredness and poor form? In a sense, though, it doesn’t matter – the notion is out there and you can be sure they know of it, so the fight now is to ensure that something far from self-evident does not become something self-fulfilling.

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  • Sun, 11 Apr 2021 15:28:55 +0000: Jesse Lingard’s double sinks Leicester and fuels West Ham’s top-four dreams - West Ham United | The Guardian

    On this evidence West Ham would not look out of place in the Champions League next season. Clinical and composed, the only time they look like freezing is when they have a 3-0 lead.

    This is a team playing at the point of maximum expression and although West Ham’s squad have been stretched to breaking point, it is going to take something special to knock them off course after they regained fourth place from Chelsea thanks to a deserved win over Leicester.

    Related: Rodgers drops Leicester’s Maddison, Choudhury and Pérez for Covid breach

    Related: Allan Saint-Maximin delivers blazing cameo as Newcastle beat Burnley

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