I n any other season, West Ham’s thrilling performances and results this season would have earnt them the title of ‘surprise package’. Not this time around, though. Th ere’s another team who’ve, as painful as it is to admit, had even more impressive results – and that’s Leicester City. They are currently clear at the top of the Premier League, with just six games to play
And even if they ultimately fall short – as many pundits are predicting – they are 99.9 per cent certain to be playing Champions League football next season. Given that they were fighting against relegation last term, the turnaround in form has been nothing short of remarkable and dramatic, and they could yet be the first non-Big Four club to win the title since Blackburn Rovers in 1995.
Leicester City have truly shown what is possible in the Premier League. For many years, it’s been considered that breaking into that Champions League pack and fighting for the title has been restricted to a handful of highly-financed, big-name teams. Not any more, as Leicester and we at West Ham are demonstrating. So what can we learn from Leicester City this season, and is it possible for us to replicate their success next time around?
One reason why Leicester have been so consistent with their results has been their injury record – or, more specifically, lack of it. They’re officially the least-injured squad in the Premier League, and despite the fact that Jamie Vardy has had six reported injuries this season (including a broken wrist, groin surgery and an Achilles injury) he’s actually started every Premier League game.
West Ham, by comparison, lost Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini to injuries for a time, and whilst the overall injury record isn’t too bad, the loss of the team’s most creative players led to a period of being unable to win games. Had even a couple of the draws turned into wins, we’d be sitting in third right about now. Leicester also work hard, no matter who the opponent, running further on the pitch than many of their Premier League rivals.
They are rarely, if ever guilty of underestimating the opposition. Th is is an accusation that you might level at us, unfortunately. Fantastic wins at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool have been matched by disappointing results against Norwich City (home and away), Sunderland, and away at Aston Villa and Newcastle United.
For Leicester, well, Jamie Vardy is having a party, as the Premier League’s top scorer while Riyad Mahrez is the first player in the Premier League to reach double figures for both goals and assists, and Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan are top of the table for tackles won and blocks made. Whatever the outcome, though, West Ham fans can take heart: our team really isn’t far off. Above all, Leicester have shown that money doesn’t always count for everything – good management and hard work can get you success. It’s a recipe that we have most of the ingredients for