Three more wins are all that stand in the way of Leicester City winning the title, and in order to collect the first of them they must overcome a tricky test posed by a West Ham United side that has not lost in the league since January.
Having reached this stage of the season with such a healthy lead at the top, it is now more about results rather than performances for Leicester, who have won several of their recent fixtures without hitting sparkling form.
That was certainly the case at Sunderland last time out as they struggled to find fluency for long periods of the game, but that winning mentality shone through in the end as Jamie Vardy used his pace to plunder two goals and move the club almost to within touching distance of the crown.
But once again it was defensive solidity which proved the most impressive aspect of the Foxes’ display on Wearside as centre-backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan were impenetrable for the umpteenth time since the turn of the year. As is often said, such characteristics are a mark of champions.
This game could be decided by which team is superior in midfield, where Daniel Drinkwater and Player of the Season nominee N’Golo Kante take on the similarly hardworking Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble. A lot of ground will be covered by both sides, so it promises to be a fascinating battle.
Challenging for the top four is now the only thing that West Ham have to play for following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United in midweek. It was a game which took them just that little bit too long to get going and create meaningful chances, and they were made to pay at the other end.
Andy Carroll was utilised magnificently in his role as target man during the richly entertaining draw with Arsenal last weekend, and he got a hat-trick to show for it. However, he was well marshalled by Man Utd and his influence was far more limited as a result, so the Hammers must produce the goods if he is to get the better of Huth and Morgan.
The concern for Slaven Bilic after that cup replay is that his side were a little too easy to play through, so he will be asking for his players to be tougher to break down here, as Leicester have shown many a time that they are masters at creating openings.
With Jeffrey Schlupp and long-term absentee Matt James having recovered from injury, Leicester have a fully-fit squad, but are likely to go unchanged.
Winston Reid and Sam Byram both return for West Ham, but they remain without striker Diafra Sakho because of a knee problem.
Last Meeting: Leicester’s march to Premier League safety last season was begun in this fixture as Andy King scored late to seal a dramatic and deserved 2-1 victory. Esteban Cambiasso scored the opener from range before Cheikhou Kouyate punished David Nugent’s penalty miss to equalise, but King had the final say as he netted his first top-flight goal.
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