Good afternoon folks! My name's Giuseppe and I'll be taking you through this afternoon's Premier League clash between West Ham United
and Leicester City
So then, West Ham have had a cracking start to the season, sitting in the top four of the league. They're lost just one of their last ten games, so will be confident of getting something from today's match against the Premier League's bottom side.
Meanwhile, Nigel Pearson's Leicester have won just twice in the Premier League this season and have taken one point from a possible 27 over their last nine matches. After their heroics against Manchester United early on, they're in danger of fading fast.
Now, West Ham's Champions League credentials will be put to the test by a run of fixtures that sees them play four games in 13 days, although they will today's game as a fairly straightforward start. Leicester are so bereft of confidence at the moment.
Team news are through, here we go...
WEST HAM STARTING XI: Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell, Song, Kouyate, Nolan, Downing, Sakho, Carroll
LEICESTER STARTING XI: Hamer, Simpson, Morgan, Konchesky, Wasilewski, Cambiasso, Drinkwater, King, Schlupp, Mahrez, Vardy
WEST HAM SUBS: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Collins, Amalfitano, Zarate, Cole, Valencia
LEICESTER SUBS: Smith, De Laet, Hammond, James, Knockaert, Ulloa, Nugent
Well, it's pretty straightforward this afternoon - neither side has made any changes from their respective last fixtures. West Ham line up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Stewart Downing in the hole behind a front two of Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll, while the Foxes are in a 4-5-1 lineup with Jamie Vardy the lone frontman.
Coming into the Christmas period, there are interesting statistics regarding both teams today - depending on Southampton's result at home to Everton, West Ham could be in the top four at Christmas for the first time since 1985-86, in a season where they ultimately finished third.
Leicester, on the other hand, could bag the unwanted position of being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. Only two sides, West Bromwich Albion (2004-05) and Sunderland (2013-14) have survived to live another season in the top flight after being at the foot of the table on December 25. It's not a good stat by any means of the imagination.
More worrying statistics for the visitors today: the Foxes have lost seven of their eight games on the road, and have failed to claim a single win in 17 games in London.
So it seems that the odds are stacked against Leicester today, but what do the Sports Mole
pundits make of it all? Well, let's find out!
West Ham are being widely tipped to get all three points today, but Sam Allardyce
isn't taking this game lightly. He told reporters: "Leicester are a hard team to break down, they work very hard for each other. Despite their run of games without a win, they haven't been turned over by anyone, it's only ever by the odd goal.
"I saw the Leicester game against Manchester City and I thought they did very well. There are a lot of dangers in Nigel's teams that we need to be well aware of. They won't lie down and sit back."
Today could also prove lively in terms of challenges and cards - there have been five dismissals in the last eight league meetings between West Ham and Leicester.
The last few weeks have been nothing short of testing for the East Midlands outfit. Since their fantastic 5-3 win against Manchester United in September, not only have they not won in 11 games - the longest winless streak in the Premier League this season - but manager Nigel Pearson has also found himself in trouble for his spat with a fan
, while higher up the hierarchy, the club have parted ways
with director of football Terry Robinson.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Leicester's only league win in their last 27 trips to Upton Park came in the Premier League in August 2000, Darren Eadie scoring the only goal. Meanwhile, West Ham have won 15 of the 17 most recent meetings in East London.
PREDICTION TIME: Just ten minutes until kickoff now, and my prediction is as follows - West Ham are flying high, Leicester are having a bad time of things, and even though I'm sure the Foxes will put up a decent fight, I reckon the hosts will prove too strong and secure a 2-0 win.
Let's not forget Pearson got Leicester promoted from the Championship on 102 points last season, while Allardyce was coming under criticism at Upton Park and was highly tipped for the sack. This time round, the West Ham boss is working wonders... should the Foxes do the same and give their manager time?
The teams are now coming out - kickoff is imminent here at the Boleyn Ground.
KICKOFF! Referee Martin Atkinson gets proceedings underway. The visitors kick off and are shooting towards the Bobby Moore end.
The hosts make a lively start as Downing and Kouyate combine, with the latter sending a cross into the Leicester box that falls to Carroll but is scrambled away.
Two corners won by West Ham, with Carroll involved on both occasions. Vardy finds himself marking the England striker for the former, while the second sees Carroll win the ball, but Nolan fouls Morgan as the pair tussle for the loose ball.
CHANCE! The hosts are really pressing down on their opponents here. Nolan plays Sakho through on goal, who controls it superbly, but the bounce isn't ideal and he goes on to volley wide.
That said, Leicester aren't finding themselves overwhelmed by any means. Some decent link-up play between Mahrez and Simpson sees the latter fire a low cross into the box, though West Ham are able to clear their lines.
Schlupp gets in behind Jenkinson and his cross is put behind by Tomkins for a corner, but from the ensuing set piece, Carroll heads clear and nearly sets off a counter-attack. Sakho can't break clear though.
Vardy gets in behind Reid and cuts a dangerous ball back, but he just misses Schlupp, who cannot get a touch. The visitors getting quite a few crosses into the Hammers box so far.
It's been fairly even so far, though a little shapeless at times. West Ham started brightly but the Foxes have certainly held their colour and matches their opponents so far.
Downing manages to win a corner, but from the set piece, Sakho fails to connect cleanly, and the ball goes out for a throw in.
Still no goals here at Upton Park, with both sides yet to get into a rhythm. Jenkinson's punt up field tries to find Carroll, who chases after the ball, but Hamer collects with little difficulty.
Adrian with a bit of a gaffe there as his quick throw allows Cambiasso to nip in, but Tomkins manages to clear. Kouyate is then fouled by Morgan.
Cresswell is driven wide, but his cross wins yet another corner. There's a bit of a scramble in front of goal following the set piece, with Sakho laying the ball on for Song, but it comes to nothing as two Hammers players are flagged for offside.
CHANCE! Pretty bad miss from Carroll there. Downing cuts back to the unmarked striker, but the England man skies it over from eight yards.
GOAL! WEST HAM 1-0 LEICESTER (ANDY CARROLL)
Well! He was guilty of a terrible miss moments earlier, but Carroll more than makes up for it - what a mistake from Konchesky though! The Leicester defender's awful backpass plays the big striker right in, and he bears down on goal and dinks it over Hamer into the net! First blood to West Ham!
That was Carroll's third goal in the Premier League this season. He's having somewhat of a renaissance after speculation that he was going to leave the Hammers in the summer.
At the other end, Schlupp tries to send a low cross into the Hammers box, but Nolan makes another vital interception. Leicester just can't seem to break through the hosts' back line.
Yet more chaos in the Leicester defence as Morgan lofts a poor bouncing backpass towards Hamer, but this time it's rectified as the Foxes goalkeeper manages to clear as Sakho bears down on him.
BOOKING: Leicester's Andy King is booked after a clumsy challenge on Kouyate.
CHANCE! Now it's the Hammers who make a mistake at the back, courtesy of Tomkins. Vardy nips in, finds Mahrez and Adrian acrobatically tips over the Algerian's deflected shot.
From the corner, the ball falls to Morgan, who's out deep. He tries to nod it back across the box but the header is caught under the crossbar by Adrian.
It's getting quite tasty here - Vardy catches Song on the right ankle with a sliding tackle, which leaves the West Ham man down and needing treatment. He goes over to the touchline for a few moments but goes back on before long.
BOOKING: And again! Moments after Song comes back on, Vardy puts in an even stronger challenge on the Cameroonian and sends him to the turf again. The Leicester man earns a yellow for his troubles.
Wasilewski blocks Carroll's attempt from the resulting free kick before Leicester clear the following corner to the near post.
The refereeing assistant indicates a minimum of two minutes' stoppage time.
West Ham are pushing for a second before the break and are putting the visitors under a lot of pressure. From a corner, Carroll cannot reach to poke the ball goalwards and Leicester get away once again.
HALF TIME: WEST HAM 1-0 LEICESTER
At the break here at Upton Park and West Ham are edging Leicester 1-0. Andy Carroll redeemed himself for a sitter in the 23rd minute when his opportunism and deft finish over Ben Hamer moments later put the hosts into the lead. But what a mistake by Paul Konchesky, his back pass costing his side dear.
The visitors have played well but failed to create any real chances other than Riyad Mahrez's left-footed drive midway through the half, which was expertly saved by Adrian. They certainly don't deserve to be rock bottom of the Premier League given their performance so far.
That said, West Ham were clearly the better side. They had most of the possession and most of the chances, and should be confident enough to see this game out. Now, can Pearson work his magic in the Leicester dressing room and invigorate his side for the second half?
Andy Carroll's now got his third goal in the Premier League this season. He certainly seemed happy about it...
© Getty Images
KICKOFF: The hosts get the game back underway. Can they see the game out and secure the win, possibly add to their goal tally, or will Leicester peg the Hammers back? Stay tuned to find out!
Sakho gets flagged for offside as the visitors hold a tight line in the opening exchanges of the second 45.
CHANCE! Carroll attempts an ambitious overhead kick from Reid's free kick, but Hamer watches it fly well wide of the post. Worth a try.
Ouch! Carroll twists his ankle and stumbles before colliding into the ad boards by the photographers. But he gets up and is back onto the pitch to loud cheers from the home crowd.
GOAL! WEST HAM 2-0 LEICESTER (STEWART DOWNING)
What a strike by Downing! Leicester were actually working their way into the game moments earlier, but as the hosts counter, Sakho's header falls to the winger, who's playing centrally behind the front two today. The England man then takes a touch and curls a wonderful 25-yard strike past Hamer into the top corner. Fourth goal of the season for Downing.
CHANCE! Leicester haven't given up yet though. Drinkwater lets rip from long range, but his shot flies way off target.
SUBSTITUTIONS: Leicester make all their chances in one go as Knockaert, Ulloa and Nugent come on for Cambiasso, Konchesky and Vardy.
BOOKING: Ulloa, who's been on the pitch for about two minutes, earns himself a yellow card for a tug on Song's shirt. The Cameroonian has been on the receiving end quite a bit today.
Song tries an audacious through-ball to Jenkinson, but Leicester's defence manages to cut the move out.
SUBSTITUTION: The Hammers make a change as Tomkins is replaced by Collins. Seems to be injury-related as the former may have picked up a knock.
CHANCE! More disarray in the Foxes back line as King nearly puts through his own net with a skewed attempt at a clearance. However, it goes out for a corner and is subsequently cleared.
CHANCE! Leicester refuse to let it go as Nugent cuts inside from the right and beats two Hammers defenders, but when it comes to the shot, it's completely miscued and fails to trouble Adrian.
Bit of a lull now at Upton park with little happening except for a well-judged catch by Hamer, who is off his line early to intercept a Carroll cross.
SUBSTITUTION: West Ham make their second change as Sakho leaves the field for Valencia.
Leicester have huffed and puffed but they've just not been able to threaten inside West Ham's final third often enough. Barring a spectacular comeback, they will be bottom at Christmas.
Song tries to release Valencia down the left flank with a looping pass, but the ball is safely played back to Hamer who does well to clear.
Little happening in the game as a volley from Nugent is blocked on the edge of Hammers box, while at the other end Valencia wins a corner following a swift run, but the move is subsequently ruined by an awful Downing delivery.
CHANCE! And what a chance that was! Nugent blasts a fierce volley towards goal from six yards, but somehow, Adrian keeps it out!
SUBSTITUTION: Final change for the hosts as Amalfitano comes on for Nolan.
Song plays a deft through-ball from deep, but the Valencia did not hold his run and the move was flagged for offside. What a waste there.
There will be three minutes of added time here at Upton Park.
CHANCE! And Adrian does it again! Another wonderful save from the Hammers stopper as he leaps to keep out Ulloa's header! The Spaniard is earning his pounds sterling this afternoon, that's for sure!
FULL TIME: WEST HAM 2-0 LEICESTER
And that is it! West Ham will spend Christmas Day in the top four of the Premier League after securing a 2-0 win against Leicester City this afternoon at Upton Park.
Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing with a goal in each half to seal all three points against the Foxes, who will spend December 25 at the foot of the table. David Nugent gave his side more flair when he came on, and Adrian had to be at his best to keep out not one but two great chances late on, but it's the result that counts, and for Nigel Pearson's charges, it's not the right one!
Well folks, that's all I have time for here, but do not go anywhere, because Sports Mole will be bringing you match analysis and player ratings from this game, and you can also find all the results and reaction from all matches in the Premier League and Football League, plus much more! Thanks for tuning in and have a wonderful Christmas!