With Dean Smith facing the prospect of relegation again, look ahead to a day of drama with our Leicester City vs West Ham prediction and preview.
Leicester City vs West Ham United: Quick Stats
- Leicester have just a 17% chance of avoiding relegation, according to the Opta supercomputer.
- Dean Smith will become the first manager in Premier League history to suffer back-to-back relegations if the Foxes do go down.
- The only current Premier League player with more goals than Jamie Vardy (seven) on the last day of the season is Harry Kane (nine).
It was only seven years ago that Leicester were still revelling in their astonishing Premier League title win of 2015-16, a success that’ll long be remembered as one of the greatest achievements in British – maybe even global – sporting history.
That never led to a period of sustained success; no one really expected it to. But the prospect of dropping back into the Championship anytime soon at that point surely wasn’t crossing many people’s minds.
The sad reality for Leicester ahead of the final round of 2022-23 Premier League matches is that survival isn’t even in their hands. Having amassed just 31 points from 37 games, the Foxes need to beat West Ham and hope Everton drop points at home to Bournemouth.
How likely is that? Well, the Opta supercomputer gives them a 17% chance of escaping relegation, whereas Everton have a 79.6% probability of prolonging their status as a Premier League ever-present.
Leicester are at least helped by the fact their goal difference (-18) is considerably better – ‘less bad’ might be more applicable… – than the Toffees’ (-24), hence why Dean Smith’s side could survive if Bournemouth manage to leave Goodison Park with a draw.
But if a return to the Championship comes to fruition for Leicester, they’ll be only the second former Premier League champions to be relegated after Blackburn Rovers, who won the title in 1994-95 and subsequently suffered relegation in 1998-99 and 2011-12.
West Ham were in danger of finding themselves in a similarly precarious situation only a few weeks ago, but they’ll finish no lower than 15th and have a European final to look forward to in June.
Nevertheless, David Moyes’ side look set to have a say in who goes down, and in recent years they’ve tended to finish the season well, winning their final game once in the past six campaigns. Leicester, on the other hand, have only won one of seven such matches.
It promises to be an emotionally charged encounter at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, and Smith will be desperate to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first manager ever to suffer Premier League relegation in successive seasons after taking Norwich City down last term.
West Ham 0-2 Leicester City: 12 November 2022 (Premier League)
Something that might provide Leicester with a little added confidence is that they’ve already beaten the Hammers once this season.
November was a long, long time ago in terms of both teams’ outlooks, though. Leicester’s 2-0 win at the London Stadium was their fourth win from five in the Premier League, whereas West Ham found themselves on the end of a ninth loss in 15 top-flight games, only suffering more losses at that stage of a season in 1976-77.
It was Leicester’s third away win in a row without conceding, a run they’d not managed since November 2019, so things were almost looking rosy for the second half of the season with the World Cup only a few days away.
James Maddison put Leicester ahead in the eighth minute, smashing into the roof of the net from close range after Patson Daka’s scuffed shot fortunately went straight to the England midfielder.
Youri Tielemans had a penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski, but Harvey Barnes sealed victory 12 minutes from the end, slotting under the goalkeeper after racing onto Ayoze Perez’s incisive throughball.
Since that weekend, only relegated Southampton (12) have won fewer points than Leicester (14). Over the same period, West Ham have taken 26 and are looking ahead to another season among the elite.
West Ham have lost 12 Premier League away games this season, their most in a single campaign since 1991-92 (13), while Leicester emerged victorious from just two of their previous 12 home outings.
“Say the line, Bart…”
… so something’s got to give.
Should Leicester ultimately fail to usurp Everton, it’s unequivocal that their home form will be considered decisive. Ahead of this weekend, only Southampton (10) have won fewer points in their own stadium than the Foxes (16). Although that’s one more than they’ve won on the road, there are five teams who’ve worse records in away matches this season.
Among those are West Ham (12), who will have suffered 20 league defeats in a single season for the first time since 2013-14 if they lose at the King Power Stadium.
But there’s a reason Leicester find themselves in the position they are. Their form is dire, winning just one of their previous 15 fixtures in the league.
Leicester: Jamie Vardy
He was arguably the inspiration behind their title success seven years ago. How fitting it would be if Vardy were to now get the goals that preserved their Premier League status.
The former England striker has been a genuine sensation for Leicester, though there’s nothing getting away from the fact 2022-23 has been as underwhelming for him individually as it has on a collective level.
Vardy’s scored just three goals, his worst league total since joining the club in 2012. The last time he failed to reach double figures was 2014-15 (five), Leicester’s first season back in the top-flight.
Those three goals have come from 5.9 non-penalty expected goals, with his -2.9 differential the ninth worst among forwards in the Premier League this term.
But throughout his Leicester career Vardy has risen to the big occasion and he has a fine record on the final day of the season, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane (nine) the only current Premier League player to better his seven goals on matchday 38 (eight games).
West Ham: Declan Rice
The Hammers still have the UEFA Europa Conference League final to play, so this won’t be a farewell per se. However, there’s every chance Rice will line up for West Ham in a Premier League game for the last time on Sunday.
What he brings to a team is no secret anymore. Wherever he ends up, if Rice does leave, that club will acquire one of the most rounded midfielders in the Premier League.
While there’s not much riding on Sunday’s game for West Ham, Moyes will surely still be keen for them to retain a degree of momentum and sharpness ahead of their upcoming final, so don’t expect them to throw the towel in.
There’s a strong possibility the match will be somewhat chaotic considering Leicester’s desperate situation, and that’s why Rice will probably be particularly important.
Not only does he possess the abilities to influence matters in attack, but marshalling Maddison will be a requirement. Rice manages to combine both aspects of his game well, hence why he’s the only midfielder with at least 30 open-play chances created (30), 60+ tackle attempts (79) and 55+ interceptions (62).
Leicester vs West Ham Prediction
The Opta supercomputer suggests Leicester will come out on top on Sunday, with the Foxes given a 44.6% chance of beating West Ham. That would see them live up to their end of the bargain with respect to attaining Premier League survival, though they’d still need Bournemouth to do them a favour at Everton.
West Ham are given a 27.7% likelihood of taking the three points from the King Power Stadium, leaving the draw also at 27.7%. Of course, neither result would be good enough for Smith’s side, who must win to avoid relegation.
Either way, it all comes down to Sunday. The top-flight status of Leicester, Leeds United and Everton will be decided, but it’s the latter in the driver’s seat.