Leicester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 4-1 victory over West Ham at home.
Brendan Rodgers’ men were looking to avoid registering three consecutive home defeats against a struggling Hammers side.
In the end it proved to be a comfortable evening, despite losing two starters through injury, with Ayoyze Perez grabbing a brace alongside individual efforts from Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira.
Mark Noble scored a sole consolation for the Londonders who now must dust themselves down before welcoming runaway leaders Liverpool in a week’s time.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.
Winner: Harvey Barnes
You wait 18 games for a league goal and two come in successive matches. Having scored his first Premier League goal since August last time out at Burnley, the 22-year-old Leicester winger finally netted at home this season, with his two previous strikes coming on the road.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) January 22, 2020
Barnes, now a regular fixture in Brendan Rodgers’ starting lineup, though yet to be as influential as James Maddison, was in the right place to divert Ricardo Pereira cross-cum-shot past Darren Randolph in the Hammers goal midway through the first half. The potential is boundless in the England U21 international and he’s given himself an outside chance of forcing his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans for this summer.
Loser: Nampalys Mendy
It’s been one of those seasons for Nampalys Mendy who has seldom featured under Rodgers; before today he’d made just three Premier League appearances totalling 161 minutes, including playing the full game at Burnley last weekend. The consistent presence of Wilfred Ndidi ensured his place in the shadows, but he didn’t want for tonight’s game to end the way it did. With 11 minutes before the half-time interval the Frenchman sustained what looked to be a troubling injury. His misfortune only accelerated Ndidi’s return to the Foxes fold. One wonders when we will see Mendy back in a Leicester jersey.
Winner: Ricardo Pereira
You just do not save those 💥 pic.twitter.com/u0mhdiHjZM
— Leicester City (@LCFC) January 22, 2020
Ricardo Pereira is among the Premier League’s best right-backs. His speciality being those well-timed tackles makes him a nightmare for wingers; going forward, though, is another story altogether. He’s not quite in the mould of Trent Alexander-Arnold – but who is? – though being encouraged to reach the opposition’s by-line he’s been able to create a number of chances, albeit leading to just one goal before tonight.
After inadvertently teeing up Barnes the winger returned the favour for Pereira to register his third of the season. But it was executing his bread and butter that would no doubt please him. Pereira made seven tackles, completing five of those, which naturally was the most by anyone on the field.
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Loser: Jamie Vardy
Not the sight Leicester City supporters wanted to see on the stroke of half-time as Jamie Vardy, the league’s top scorer on 17 goals, picked up a hamstring injury.
A deathly silence engulfed the King Power faithful, that soon turned to applause as he attempted to run it off, being the kind of player he is, but to no avail. So, expect the former England international to enjoy significant time in the physio room, which has to impact on their push for a top four finish.
Winner: Mark Noble
After seeing his side go 2-0 down, and truthfully second best in the opening 45 minutes, you better believe Hammers skipper Mark Noble wasn’t going to take things lying down. Being the heartbeat of David Moyes’ side, nothing less than giving their all would suffice after the break, and the east London club re-started the game on the right footing with Sebastien Haller winning a penalty in the 50th minute.
📸 Mark Noble celebrates his penalty – he has been directly involved in 79 #PL goals for West Ham (46 goals / 33 assists) – overtaking Paolo Di Canio to move top of the Hammers' all-time list #LEIWHU pic.twitter.com/hadyjKsjT0
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 22, 2020
Noble, the pen-taker, stepped up and converted past Kasper Schmeichel who had just been cautioned. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone given his reputation of late. Since missing against Burnley in December 2016, his fourth (and to date last) failure from 12 yards, he’s been on a roll with this evening’s effort being the 10th consecutive penalty he’s dispatched in the Premier League.
Loser: Sebastien Haller
Although he won the spot-kick that led to West Ham halving the deficit, it was another poor show for the club’s most expensive acquisition Sebastien Haller who has now blanked in 13 of his last 15 league matches for the Hammers. With the Londoners only sitting outside the relegation zone on the count of having a better goal-difference than Bournemouth and Watford (all on 23 points), it’s high time the French marksman found his scoring boots. That said, West Ham have a game in hand over their relegation rivals albeit that is against Liverpool next time out so expect another frustrating outing.