West Ham slipped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat to a second-string Leicester City side on Saturday evening, piling the pressure on Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Leicester were handed a great opportunity to take the lead in the opening 15 minutes when they were awarded a penalty, but Lukasz Fabianski saved Demarai Gray's weak spot kick. Gray's miss was soon forgotten though, when Kelechi Iheanacho nodded home from close range five minutes before half time.
West Ham equalised only a few minutes later however, Felipe Anderson dancing through a number of tackles and picking out Pablo Fornals, who drove the ball beyond Kasper
Key Talking Point
What a return to action for Lukasz Fabianski! West Ham have suffered terribly without the Polish international between the sticks, and his replacement Roberto was nothing short of a disaster – so it would have been music to Pellegrini's ears when he learned that Fabianski was fit and raring to go against Leicester.
The ex-Swansea man would probably have enjoyed a quiet return to action, but disaster struck when the shot-stopper gave away a penalty and received a yellow card early in the first half. The entire life and atmosphere could have been sucked out of the London stadium had Gray dispatched his spot kick, but Fabianski earned redemption with a confident save, diving to his left to parry the shot from 12 yards.
He couldn't help his side in earning a victory upon his return, but Fabianski's presence will come as a relief to West Ham fans. Y
Substitutes: Antonio (6), Snodgrass (6), Ajeti (5).
STAR MAN - Considering the hype and excitement that surrounded Felipe Anderson during his debut season in England, it's fair to say that his second campaign has been a complete disappointment. Following his superb display against Leicester though, Hammers fans will be hoping that they are going to see the best of their Brazilian star in 2020.
Yes, Pablo!— West Ham United (@WestHam) December 28, 2019
Felipe Anderson plays a first-time ball in for Fornals after a nice one-two with Fredericks. He sidefoots it in calmly for the equaliser. #WHULEI 1-1 (45)
Anderson would have been licking his lips when he saw the much-changed and aged Leicester defence, with the lumbering Wes Morgan lining up with the not-so-pacy Christian Fuchs at the back. The 26-year-old was at the heart of everything dangerous that West Ham produced, using his blistering speed and trickery to bamboozle the Leicester backline, and providing the moment of the match with some glorious skill to assist his side's first-half equaliser.
Anderson has looked far from settled in London this year, but here is hoping that the former Lazio man will treat the Premier League to the kind of displays which made us all fall in love with the talented winger.
Key Talking Point
Following their electric start to the new season, Leicester City have hit several bumps in the road with defeats in their previous two matches and a draw with struggling Norwich. In an apparent attempt to shake it up and inject some fresh legs into proceedings, Brendan Rodgers made nine changes to the side which lost on Boxing Day. And didn't they do well?
Leicester were a much different animal without the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans in their ranks, and their transitions in play were slower than in previous displays. However, the Foxes were still confident when going forward, and they were typically resolute at the back.
Rodgers will have learnt plenty about his fringe players this evening, and he will have a lot of confidence when rotating his side in the future.
Substitutes: Maddison (6), Ndidi (6), Barnes (6).
STAR MAN - What a bright future this youngster has ahead of him. James Justin joined Leicester from Luton Town this summer, and expectations were high for the dynamic full-back. But the 21-year-old's playing time has been severely limited by the impressive form of Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira, so he has had to settle for a place on the Foxes' bench thus far.
Justin was picked in Rodgers' rotated side to face West Ham on Saturday however, and the starlet certainly grabbed his opportunity with both hands. The former Hatters defender powered up and down the right flank, joining his team's attacking play whilst doing his defensive duties to a high standard.
A promising performance from a talented future prospect.
The winter matches continue to come thick and fast for West Ham, who host a struggling Bournemouth on New Year's Day.
Leicester will be desperate to strengthen their position in the top four when they travel to St James Park, where they will take on Steve Bruce's Newcastle.
Source : 90min