Preview: Leicester City vs. West Ham United

Preview: Leicester City vs. West Ham United

Even victory is not certain to save them, so Leicester City face a win-or-bust scenario on the Premier League’s final day, when they host West Ham United at the King Power Stadium.

The 2016 champions will be demoted should they fail to take maximum points on Sunday – and results elsewhere could condemn still them to the drop anyway. The Hammers, meanwhile, may have at least one eye on an upcoming European final.

While the verdict was out as to whether Leicester’s goalless draw at Newcastle United on Monday represented a good result in their precarious circumstances, the point Dean Smith’s side took home from St James’ Park leaves them with hope of top-flight survival.

Holding a Champions League-chasing side on home turf may build a little confidence in the camp following back-to-back losses for the concession of eight goals, but the Foxes’ fate is not in their own hands heading into the final 90 minutes of a dismal campaign.

Failure to win this weekend will see the Midlands club relegated from the Premier League just seven years after claiming the title under Claudio Ranieri, and they would become only the second side demoted from the division after winning it – following in the footsteps of Blackburn Rovers.

Only a win over West Ham allied to Everton dropping points against Bournemouth would now see City survive, so Smith’s message will be clear ahead of kickoff at the King Power.

Neither form nor precedent bode well, though, as Leicester have won just two of their last 12 home fixtures – losing eight times in the process – while failing to keep a single clean sheet. Furthermore, they have won their final league game in just one of the last seven seasons.

However, one of only four away wins this term came in November’s reverse fixture, when James Maddison and Harvey Barnes – who were both dropped against Newcastle – scored for the Foxes in a 2-0 win at London Stadium. A repeat result now could be invaluable.

While West Ham’s Premier League season reaches its conclusion on Sunday, they are still over a week away from contesting the Europa Conference League final in Prague, where Fiorentina will stand in the way of some elusive silverware.

The Hammers have not won a major trophy since the FA Cup of 1980, so they could be forgiven for being distracted by such an opportunity appearing on the horizon – yet that did not seem to be the case last Sunday.

Their top-flight safety was assured with a 3-1 win over Leeds United – when Declan Rice most likely signed off his spell in East London by opening the scoring – and the capital club now aim to build more momentum by ending their below-par league campaign with a three-match winning run.

Victory in Leicester could see David Moyes and co climb to 13th in the final Premier League table, which would add a gloss of respectability to a season scarred by several months spent battling at the bottom.

Against the odds, Moyes has survived until the final day when all around him were being fired by trigger-happy chairmen, and as West Ham have lost their final league game just once in the last six seasons, he will now seek a similarly positive outcome on Sunday.

Leicester City Premier League form:

West Ham United Premier League form:

West Ham United form (all competitions):

We say: Leicester City 2-2 West Ham United
Relaxed and in their best form of the season, West Ham can take a carefree approach to Sunday’s game – and competition for places ahead of a major final should serve as sufficient motivation. Leicester’s defensive deficiencies have never really been resolved, so they will come up short in their quest for survival.

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