Leicester City will look to give their Barclays Premier League season a much-needed jump-start on Saturday afternoon with a victory against Sam Allardyce’s in-form West Ham.
Despite seeing a steady improvement in performances over recent weeks, Nigel Pearson’s men find themselves at the bottom of the table and without a win since the victory over Manchester United in September.
The message from the players however, is one of resilience and willingness to fight to retain their Premier League status – just as they did against champions Manchester City last week – who edged them out 1-0 at King Power Stadium.
Ben Hamer is likely to continue in goal as Kasper Schmeichel recovers from a broken metatarsal, while Matt Upson is edging closer to full fitness following a foot injury that ruled him out since the start of the season. Zoumana Bakayogo (knee) is the only long-term absentee.
A trip to Upton Park at the moment presents one of the toughest challenge in the league, as West Ham United seek to build on a blistering start to their season that sees them in fourth place.
The Hammers made it four unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland last weekend – ending a run of three straight wins – and haven’t been beaten at home since August.
Buoyed by summer additions such as Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho, Alex Song and Aaron Cresswell, the Hammers have hit the ground running in impressive fashion.
Alongside this, West Ham are also on the verge of a clean bill of health, with Mark Noble the only doubt for the weekend’s game with a calf strain.
After the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson said: “I think certainly the way that the players performed warranted a better result, but we have to again now deal with the fact that we’ve come away with nothing from the game.
“That is disappointing for all of us and certainly for the players who have been out there, who have played very well against an accomplished side.
“It’s about looking forward to the next game now because this run of ours remains difficult to deal with for the players certainly - we are playing well but not really getting what we possibly deserve.
“That remains something for us to both rue in some ways but also to concentrate on in terms of the performance levels, which were good.”
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce told whufc.com after the 1-1 draw with Sunderland: "I am delighted in the performance of the team and I'm really pleased with the way that they played. Right from the very start, unlike how we started at West Brom, we took a grip on the game, created several chances but couldn't put the ball in the net.
"We then had to overcome a massive setback when they were awarded a penalty which wasn't a penalty, of course.
"We got a quick response and another Stewart Downing goal - I thought he was terrific. I thought the whole of the team played to their best, apart from the final bit where we couldn't find the clinical finish we needed to end up winning the game.
"Coming back from a goal down again, albeit against the run of play and from a penalty that wasn't a penalty, showed the spirit in the team."
West Ham wins: 50
Leicester City wins: 42
Last Three Meetings
Leicester City 1-2 West Ham
Monday 23 April, 2012
Goals: Beckford 34; Reid 39, Collison 58
West Ham 3-2 Leicester City
Saturday 29 October, 2011
Goals: Baldock 21, 71, Faubert 22; King 58, 74
West Ham 2-2 Leicester City
Friday 18 March, 2005
Goals: Sheringham 28, 62; Connolly pen 25, Gillespie 44
With eight goals in just 11 appearances for the Hammers this season, it’s clear that in-form striker Diafra Sakho will be one-to-watch when the Foxes visit Upton Park on Saturday.
The powerful Senegal international joined West Ham in the summer from French side Metz, and after scoring his first in the Capital One Cup against Sheffield United, he went on to score in the subsequent six matches.
These performances won the striker plenty of admirers, and ultimately the Premier League Player of the Month award for October.
Having plundered 20 goals for Metz last term, Sakho has certainly picked up where he left off in the Premier League, and City will need to pay close attention to him on Saturday if they are to prevent the Hammers from scoring.