Leicester City get to keep wondering just how good this season can be, but the real work starts for Slaven Bilic at West Ham United.
In a game between sides that provided two of the stories of the opening week of the season, only one of them was going to be able to maintain their perfect start, and Claudio Ranieri’s canniness ensured that was the away side with a supreme tactical performance to set up a 2-1 win.
It also brought something of a farcical end to the game, as Adrian went up for a corner only to be sent off for a clumsy challenge that left under-fire Jamie Vardy in pain. Carl Jenkinson had to go in goal.
That removed all of West Ham’s attacking impetus, but the truth was that Leicester had already done a pretty good job of that.
“We surprised West Ham,” Ranieri said – and more than a few people. They are top of the league.
Ranieri’s side didn’t seem affected by the midweek controversy over Vardy’s disciplining for abusing a fellow gambler in a casino, and built on their brilliant opening win over Sunderland.
By contrast, this was a far drabber West Ham than that which defeated Arsenal 2-0, and there was no greater sign of that than the board that went up at half-time to signal that 16-year-old Reece Oxford was coming off. Brilliant at the Emirates, he was bypassed here with Leicester’s attacking thrilling on the break.
For the first goal, on 27 minutes, Vardy crossed for Shinji Okazaki to head in after Adrian had saved his initial effort and the excellent Riyad Mahrez hit the second.
Bilic reshaped West Ham at half-time to bring Payet into the game more, and he duly rattled in a strike to make it 2-1 but Leicester showed impressive resilience to stifle the home side and reduce them to just one Diafra Sakho shot, well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
West Ham might have had a penalty in the first half for Schmeichel colliding with Sakho, but Bilic wasn’t making excuses.
“They were quicker than us,” he said. Leicester are still running, West Ham have been halted.
West Ham: (4-5-1) Adrian; Jenkinson, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Payet, Noble, Oxford (Obiang, 45), Kouyate (Lanzini, 75), Zarate (Maiga, 82); Sakho
Leicester: (4-5-1) Schmeichel; De Laet (Benalouane, 65), Huth, Morgan, Schlupp; Mahrez (Fuchs, 81), Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Okazaki (Kante, 62); Vardy
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Mahrez (Leicester)
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content