player ratings

Player Ratings V Leicester

Author: . Published: at 8:45pm

Written by : George Lewis @georgelewiss97

Lukasz Fabianski: Probably the busiest evening for Fabianski so far, as he was regularly required to claim crosses under waves of Leicester pressure, with his command of the box providing the defence with a sense of calmness. Though the opposition’s poor finishing meant he was rarely stretched, he kept everything out until the desperately unlucky goal; the one area of improvement could be his distribution, as he occasionally failed to hit the frontman with a long kick. 8/10

Pablo Zabaleta: Dealing with Ben Chilwell and Marc Albrighton seemed like a difficult task to begin with, but he improved considerably after a difficult opening spell and worked in tandem with Diangana well. The introduction of Demarai Gray created a new dynamic in the game, and the Argentinian struggled to cope with the substitute’s raw pace initially, but he again managed to cope well later in the game as Leicester ignored the middle of the pitch as an attacking route. 7/10

Fabian Balbuena: An eventful game for The General; his first goal for the club was followed by a fluke of an own goal, but in between these moments he was the outstanding player on the pitch. Aside from the opening ten minutes, in which the Hammers were dominated by their opponents, Balbuena was imperious in the heart of the defence, winning the vast majority of defensive headers as the Foxes loaded crosses into the box. After a somewhat tricky start, in which the defence was regularly exposed, we’ve haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game for the last seven fixtures, and this platform set by Balbuena and Diop is giving us a chance in games. 9/10

Issa Diop: As the “we’ve got Diop” tune rang around the King Power concourse (for at least five minutes I might add), one could be forgiven for thinking all the adulation could be a tempting of fate, but thankfully the Frenchman delivered another assured performance. His customary sliding block was on show twice, but this was as flashy as it got, for the majority of his work wasn’t pretty. Under a barrage of crosses, Diop was key in a defensive display which blended the classical nature of clearing headers with the modern style of an offside trap. As a sceptic of this latter style earlier in the season, the high-line is beginning to take shape and become a potent defensive weapon; the final hurdle is defending free-kicks with the same quality, but there’s no reason to suggest Diop, Balbuena and Pellegrini won’t achieve this. 9/10

Arthur Masuaku: Pellegrini’s brave decision to recall the left-back was a bold one, but it made sense given the lack of other ball carriers in the team. The Frenchman rewarded the manager’s decision with his best performance of the season, dealing with any overhit crosses well and retaining possession well throughout. Most pleasing was his positional sense, as he coped pretty well with the lofted ball over his head. When being moved up the wing, he was key in the team’s push at the end of the game, and it seems the left-wing role is a viable position for him. 8/10

Declan Rice: With performances like this, the contract situation has gone from a hindrance to a full-blown worry. Even before Noble’s sending off, the youngster was disruptive in the middle of the park, helping to wrestle back control after a difficult start. Given his relative inexperience in the role, it’s astounding how assured he is on the pitch, and he worked excellently with Snodgrass to nullify the Foxes’ threat. In an unglamorous role, Rice is beginning to look like a superstar. 9/10

Mark Noble: Even before his sending off, the captain was a tad off the pace at the beginning of the game. He did improve somewhat in the middle portion of the half, but his game was cut short after a deserved red card. Some have questioned his place in the team after what is simply a mistimed, rash tackle, but one look at our record without him in the team would indicate how integral he is. Even so, the fact remains that we are without his services for the next three games; given our injury crisis in midfield, the next couple of weeks could be tough. 4/10

Robert Snodgrass: You’d have got long odds for betting that Snodgrass would play alongside Rice in a midfield two, but the Scotsman was ideally suited to this rear-guard action. He was composed on the ball whilst the team had 11 men, and provided Ogbonna with two glorious chances late in the game. Though there are more talented players at the club, his effort and versatility gives us a platform to spring from, and he’s offering a degree of consistency in a role he’s inexperienced with. 8/10

Grady Diangana: A good full-debut for the youngster, as he linked well with Zabaleta down the right-hand side. After the sending off, the onus was on the winger to track back and help the defender, and he performed this role admirably until he fatigued considerably. Thought it’s impossible to judge his attacking ability on this performance, there were enough glimpses to show he deserves a start against Spurs in midweek. 7/10

Felipe Anderson: An improvement upon last week, but the Brazilian was still relatively mediocre throughout. One lovely piece of skill resulted in a half-decent shooting opportunity, and he helped Masuaku well throughout the first half. Strangely, his tracking back waned when the team needed it most, and he was close on several occasions to unlocking the Leicester defence in the second half. The real test comes next week against Burnley, as the team will dominate possession, and it’s a game where the record signing’s creativity will need to come to the fore. 5/10

Javier Hernandez: Filling Arnautovic’s boots was always going to be a difficult task, for the Mexican doesn’t possess the speed or strength to play up front on his own. His mission was made even harder after the sending off, but he showed flashes of some nice link-up play, as well as grafting to win free-kicks and get the team up the pitch. Perhaps a little unfortunate to be taken off (a fact evidenced by his expression when substituted), Chicharito is far more suited to having a striking partner, and he might get this next week should the manager change formation to navigate around the lack of options in the midfield. 6/10

SUBS:

Michail Antonio: Another impressive outing from the bench, as he bustled his way past the Leicester defenders on a few occasions. One was the result of a superb flick over the onrushing Maguire, with his game-style suiting the team perfectly. His strength fashioned a glorious chance at the end of the game, and with a more clinical edge we’d have taken the three points. 7/10

Aaron Cresswell: No doubt frustrated at being dropped, the left-back came on and was tasked with negating the threat of Albrighton – who is arguably the best crosser of a ball in the league. He did manage to get a few crucial blocks in, but it’s the positioning of Cresswell behind Masauku that seems the best way to transfer Anderson to the middle. You’d expect the Englishman to start in midweek, but the left-back spot is still up for grabs. 6/10

Angelo Ogbonna: When the Italian was seen warming up, one was thinking Pellegrini would switch to an uncharacteristic 5-3-1 formation. Surprisingly, the centre-half slotted in at centre midfield, and the gamble didn’t really pay off. He seemed uneasy throughout, as evidenced by his two poor misses, but it was his confusion about when to step up or retreat that exposed his weakness. Given Leicester’s regular crossing, an extra body in the heart of the defence would have been welcomed, and I’m hoping Ogbonna’s cameo in the middle of the park is a one-off. 3/10

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