West Ham United

'A Big Game For West Ham' – The View On Saturday's Opponents

West Ham United will be targeting Saturday’s fixture with Leicester City as a game to turn their season around, says Phil Parry of BBC Radio London.
More on this story...

- West Ham United host Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday
- The 3pm kick-off is both sides’ final fixture before the FIFA World Cup
- BBC Radio London’s Phil Parry reviewed the Hammers’ season to date
- He spoke to about the importance of a positive result at London Stadium

Sitting 15th in the top-flight standings, level with Leicester on 14 points from 14 games and with an identical record of four wins, two draws and eight losses, only goal difference separates the two sides heading into this weekend’s encounter at London Stadium (3pm kick-off).

But while the Foxes have won three of their last four, the Hammers’ recent league record of one win in five was compounded by defeat to Sky Bet Championship high-flyers Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, losing 10-9 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

“This is the last game before the World Cup and given their league status, close to the bottom three, and the fact that they don’t play again until 8pm on Boxing Day away at Arsenal, this game is important,” Parry began.

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West Ham United
West Ham United

The east London outfit's best form of 2022/23 has come in European competition.

“I think they are going into it knowing that this is a big one and that they need to get something out of it, especially at home. They really could do with a win. I think the performance is important as well as the result.

“Winning would be ideal, but a performance on the pitch in front of the home fans as well would be much needed. [First-team assistant coach] Mark Warburton spoke to the press after the game on Wednesday night and said they know how important the match against Leicester is.”

Although Premier League form has been patchy, West Ham are progressing well in the UEFA Europa Conference League, topping Group B with 18 points from a possible 18 to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

He explained: “The Europa Conference League has been a positive shining light so far this season, because they’ve won six out of six and are into the last-16, but the opposition are not necessarily Premier League quality. He’s made changes, but it’s a completely different competition.

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David Moyes & Kevin Nolan
David Moyes & Kevin Nolan

David Moyes' side have endured a difficult start to the league campaign.

“The league has been a little bit more worrying. When they lost to Crystal Palace on Sunday, although it was a late deflected goal, David Moyes and a lot of people in the stadium said that Palace probably deserved all three points, never mind a share of the spoils.

“They’d won their previous six games at home in all competitions and they could turn it around. If they get a win on Saturday, people will feel a lot happier about themselves, although I think it will be really tough against Leicester now.”

Putting the ball in the back of the net is the capital club’s main concern, scoring just 12 times, though they have conceded 10 fewer goals than Leicester this term. Summer signings Gianluca Scamacca and Lucas Paquetá have shown promise but are yet to fully adapt to the Premier League, Parry believes.

The broadcaster told Matchday Live: “The problem has been scoring goals. It’s not just about keeping them out at one end. Only three teams have scored less goals in the Premier League so far this season. That’s an issue.

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Saïd Benrahma
Saïd Benrahma

The Hammers scored twice in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday but were knocked out after a shootout.

“You’re up against offensive units who are going to cause you problems, so if you’re not scoring, that gives you a problem. There have been new players coming in, whether bedding those in has just taken longer for the likes of Paquetá and Scamacca.

“Possibly post-World Cup we’ll see better of West Ham when players have settled in a little bit more. It’s the creation a little bit, because they are working with a slightly different formation and a different frontman in the shape of Scammacca rather than [Michail] Antonio.

“The drive from midfield is maybe not quite up to the level that it was. Form and confidence can drop. All those little elements and issues have compounded.”

Plenty of other new faces also arrived at London Stadium ahead of the new season, including Alphonse Areola and Thilo Kehrer from Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea full-back Emerson, Swansea City’s Flynn Downes, as well as Maxwell Cornet and Nayef Aguerd.

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Gianluca Scamacca & Lucas Paquetá
Gianluca Scamacca & Lucas Paquetá

Gianluca Scamacca has two Premier League goals to his name, while Lucas Paquetá has registered two assists.

Parry added: “Over the past couple of years, David Moyes has had a fairly tight squad and he’s just basically asked the same group of players to go and do it week in, week out. Now he’s got some choices and selections to make.

“He’s still working out the best combinations and the best ways of fitting players in. They needed depth because they are back in Europe and last year, the Europa League was a great campaign all the way through to the semi-final, and they were so close to getting into the final.

“But it was testing when it came to the squad, because it was a tighter squad, a smaller squad. Therefore, there’s always this danger of fatigue. They had to act and add depth. The downside to that is that you’re just breaking up that tight unit that you have and you’ve got to find the best way to work with some of the new players.

“They’ve finished top seven in the last couple of years so therefore they went into the season with an expectation that it’s something they can do again, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time for things to gel.”

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