Well that was a superb start wasn’t it? Three points away from home against a side who did the double over us last season. Conceding two headed goals in the first half wasn’t great defending, but that aside, most aspects of our performance were very pleasing. We do need a competent penalty taker though, Cresswell perhaps? He does strike the ball cleanly.
It certainly was an entertaining game for any neutral viewers with the chances created and attempts on goal, in addition to the six goals that were scored. I even thought the Sky TV commentary team were good (Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe). One thing that annoys me though – they love to highlight a player who loves playing against West Ham (e.g. Lukaku, Callum Wilson etc). They tell you before the game, and don’t they just love it when they score. They can’t stop going on about it.
I thought we were unlucky to be behind at the interval and loved the way we turned it on in the second half. Benrahma and Antonio combined so well for the counter attacking fourth goal, reversing the assist and goal scorer for Benrahma’s header. I’m looking forward to Benrahma being a key player for us. Soucek and Rice were excellent (as ever) and Coufal got better as the game progressed. Cresswell’s goal demonstrated how VAR should be used, although I was not convinced that Bowen was actually offside at the point Cresswell struck the ball, but that was not revisited with the thicker lines we can expect to see drawn from now on giving the benefit to the attacker. Bowen’s mazy first half run showed great dribbling skill but he should perhaps have been more composed and scored.
We now move on from a team that beat us twice last season to an opponent that we defeated in both games scoring three times in each one, although the away victory was more comfortable than the home one. Leicester were the only team that we managed to beat who finished above us in the table, and we achieved it twice.
Coming from behind to win 4-2 last weekend reminded me of facing Leicester way back on Boxing Day in 1968. That was a morning game at Upton Park, and it seemed we had barely taken our seats when we were two goals down. However a massively entertaining game ended with us winning 4-2 thanks to a Brian Dear hat trick and a goal from a very young Trevor Brooking. Four days later we visited Filbert Street, Leicester and won again with a 4-2 score line.
There were some high scoring games against Leicester in the 1960s and 1970s. The season following the two 4-2 wins we recorded a 4-0 win at Upton Park with two more from Dear. That was the game where I witnessed the best goal I’ve ever seen (scored by Martin Peters). In the seventies I remember beating them at Upton Park 3-2, 5-2 and even 6-2! On the other hand they also defeated us a couple of times in the sixties by 5-2 and 5-4.
Assuming no injuries I fully expect David Moyes to name the same starting eleven for this game. We are narrow favourites to win at 8/5 with Leicester at 7/4 and the draw at 23/10. Will it be another high scoring game? You can get 50/1 on 4-2 to West Ham (and incidentally 4-2 to the Foxes too).
If we win we will become the fifth Premier League side to boast a 100% record after just two games this season. That will be five more than achieved the feat in the ultra-competitive Championship where not a single team managed to win their first two games. History is against us. Can you remember the last time we won our opening two fixtures in a Premier League season? You have to go back to the 1997/98 campaign when we recorded two consecutive 2-1 wins, away at Barnsley and at home to Tottenham. That was a good season – we eventually finished eighth, winning the final game 4-3 at home to Leicester. Yet another high scoring game between the two clubs! Perhaps we’ll get another this evening? What are the chances?