West Ham can’t turn things round despite Antonio’s pace injection
PUBLISHED: 15:17 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 23 January 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers slip closer to the drop zone after four-some Foxes see them off
There was a period early in the second half of this match when it all looked so promising for West Ham.
They went in 2-0 down after a terrible first-half display, but the introduction of Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals as well as the earlier exit of Jamie Vardy saw the Hammers take charge.
They pulled one back through the trusty right-foot of Mark Noble from the penalty spot and the home fans were certainly getting restless.
A series of corners mounted the pressure on Leicester's back-line and just at that moment, the Hammers needed a bit of luck, a deflection off someone's backside or something like that.
It never came and looking at the final score of 4-1 to the Foxes, it was as if it never happened.
Antonio, even if not fully fit, makes such a difference to this team. He has pace first and foremost, something the rest of the team is sorely lacking.
He has a determination and a presence and perhaps most important of all, he gives support to the horribly exposed Sebastien Haller.
"Antonio gives us something," said manager David Moyes.
"He allowed us to play the ball forward and maybe get in behind a bit more.
"We hadn't had that in the first half at all - we struggled to get out and struggled to make enough good passes.
"In the second half we got the ball forward a bit more which gave us the opportunity to get up the pitch.
"It was good to get Michail back because he is so important to us."
He is clearly vital to the team, but a player with suspect hamstrings cannot be relied on every week and once again others did not step up to the plate.
Manuel Lanzini was poor again, so was Arthur Masuaku and Haller, while the whole balance of the team that Moyes picked was wrong.
He went to three centre-backs the last time he was in charge, it didn't really work then and it didn't work here.
Only when they went to four at the back did they look comfortable and by then it was almost too late.
The first half saw West Ham second best throughout. The Foxes have hardly been setting the world alight in recent weeks, but they had pace and purpose and the Hammers couldn't deal with it.
Moyes summed it up, adding: "The big thing was Leicester played well and we didn't - we can't dress it up in any other way.
"I felt as if we'd got ourselves right back in it, but in a way went chasing it a little bit when we should probably have waited to try and get it.
"We got picked off once or twice, but as I said I thought Leicester played well. We have been doing okay, so tonight was disappointing."
They did end up chasing the game, but that is what happens after going in at the break 2-0 down and having to make two substitutions at half-time.
"We won't make any excuses," added Moyes. "We'll get back on the training pitch and work to be better.
"We've been good - this was probably the worst I've seen us defensively at different times, but overall we just need to do much better."
That is an understatement and with the likes of Liverpool (twice) and Manchester City coming up, unless we see an injection of new players arrive in the next week, then the prospect of the Championship is looming large. Liverpool next. Eeek!
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