The return of Fabianski, loss to Leicester reserves, Carlos Sanchez poor, Pellegrini sacked- Talking Points from West Ham vs Leicester

West Ham’s 2019 finished on a disappointing note as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday evening. Brendan Rodgers fielded what was virtually a Foxes B team by making nine changes, but his reserves ran out comfortable winners at the London Stadium. The home side will feel they could have done better defensively for both goals, and apart from that moment of brilliance from Felipe Anderson to set up Pablo Fornals, didn’t trouble Kasper Schmeichel too much.

The result left the Hammers just one point above the drop zone and forced the club to part ways with Manuel Pellegrini after the game, with Wednesday’s fixture against Bournemouth now shaping up to be a massive one. Here are our talking points from this GW20 clash.

The return of Lukasz Fabianski: West Ham’s problems began the moment Fabianski got injured at the Vitality Stadium in September. The club started the season encouragingly, but everything went haywire once the Pole, the reigning Hammer of the Year, was diagnosed with a torn hip muscle. His replacement Roberto didn’t exude confidence under the sticks, and that nervousness seemed to spread to the rest of the team. Roberto was finally replaced by veteran David Martin, who himself picked up a hip injury after keeping clean sheets in the wins over Chelsea and Southampton that bought Pellegrini some time.

Fabianski saved an early penalty from Demarai Gray, but there was precious little he could do to stop the other goals. Nevertheless, the fans will be glad to see the Polish stopper back in goal.

Carlos Sanchez poor: A poor outing for the Colombian who was asked to start as Pellegrini chose to rest veteran Mark Noble. Had a couple of nervy passes in the beginning that led to Leicester counter attacks, and the early penalty that the Foxes earned came from a move that began after his misplaced pass. He didn’t cover himself in glory for Gray’s winner either.

When Sebastien Haller was hooked early in the second half, the crowd wasn’t happy, but they almost cheered in appreciation when Sanchez was taken off. That tells a story in itself- the Colombian has clearly not endeared himself to the fans at the London Stadium.

WHU v Lei

A loss to Leicester reserves: Leicester fielded a virtual reserve side, with Rodgers making nine changes. None of the players on the field had even taken a penalty for the Foxes (they missed one early in the game), but they grew in confidence as the game went on, and were deserved winners at the end. West Ham rarely troubled them, and a loss of this nature, against a virtual B side at home, was perhaps the last straw for the board, who chose to part ways with Manuel Pellegrini.

Leicester had won 19 of their last 20 league games when they took the lead, and their reserves ensured that proud record continued, making it 20 out 21 with this 2-1 win.

Pellegrini leaves West Ham: When the Chilean arrived at the London Stadium, there was genuine hope that he could turn things around. While injuries didn’t help his cause, West Ham grossly under-performed. There was clearly a need for cover in central defence, central midfield and upfront, but these areas weren’t addressed- Jack Wilshere spent more time in the treatment room than on the field, and the likes of Alban Ajeti and Goncalo Cardoso, while talented, aren’t quite ready for Premier League football yet.

The wins against Chelsea and Southampton brought Pellegrini some time, but the writing’s been on the wall for some weeks now, and the club’s position in the table warranted the change.

Not the way the veteran manager would’ve wanted to leave the club, but unavoidable given the circumstances.

West Ham 1 (Fornals 45) Leicester 2 (Iheanacho 40, Gray 57)

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