BEN LEVENE (@BenLevene96) has scoured the markets ahead of Friday night's Premier League contest between West Ham and Leicester.
West Ham v Leicester | Friday 24th November 2017, 20:00 | Sky Sports
David Moyes will be keen to quiet the doubters on Friday after West Ham lost 2-0 at Watford in his first game in charge. Moyes has been tasked with getting some change out of an ageing Hammers side, who sit in the relegation zone 12 games into the season.
When you consider the quality at their disposal, the start to this season has been well below par. There have been question marks over attitude and work-ethic of the players too.
It may be a case of back to basics for Moyes. Renowned for his organisation and percentage football at Everton, one can imagine getting a defensive shape together would have been his priority since taking the helm.
West Ham have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last five league games and have the worst defensive record in the league.
Tinkering evident with West Ham
At Watford last weekend, some tinkering was evident. Moyes opted to start with a 4-3-3, with Marko Arnautovic playing off the right and Manuel Lanzini coming in from the left.
Andy Carroll led the line, and with Javier Hernandez and Michail Antonio out with injury, Hammers fans will be after more from their target man.
Andre Ayew is available after injury and I could envisage Moyes pushing for him and Carroll to build a relationship akin to Fellaini and Cahill during his best years at Everton. A lot of Ayew’s goals come from anticipating second balls, so the Ghanian playing off Carroll’s knock-downs could be the way forwards for West Ham.
Things won’t be easy for West Ham against a dangerous Leicester side. The Foxes have performed pretty well this season. They’re unbeaten against sides outside of the top six, which includes a run of four away games unbeaten.
Whilst we get caught up in the Moyes talk, we can’t forget that Claude Puel is also early in his tenure. Although adapting almost seemingly, Puel has a point to prove after being subject to criticism at Southampton.
They’ve looked good in his short time in charge. He’s evolved their 4-4-1-1 system into a 4-2-3-1 and his them controlling games, playing out from the back with the centre-backs splitting. This new system has also shown signs of getting the best out of Riyad Mahrez, which is massive for Leicester.
I did shortlist Leicester Draw no Bet earlier this week, but unfortunately they are now odds-on in this market and we seem to have missed the value.
Various bookmakers have Leicester as favourites for the game.
The betting angles
Leicester are the top scorers in the bottom-half of the Premier League and have already shown their counter-attacking threat under Puel. It was evident against both Everton and Stoke.
The onus will be on West Ham to keep Leicester penned in, so if allowed space, the pace of Jamie Vardy and Demarai Gray going the other way on a big pitch, against an ageing backline, could be a key feature of the game.
I’m not particularly keen on much at the prices in this one, so I’ve had a delve into the card markets. Interestingly, West Ham have had the most cards in each of their last six league games. They average more bookings than any other side in the league – a large part of this trend is down to the poor running numbers the Hammers have been posting this season.
To contrast, Leicester have picked up just one card in Claude Puel’s three-games in charge. The Foxes have not picked up more than the single booking in any of their last four away games and only once in their seven games against teams outside the Big Six have they picked up more than the single booking.
Referee Martin Atkinson has awarded two or less cards in each of his last four league games, including the last Friday night game when West Ham hosted Brighton. West Ham from scratch in terms of Asian Cards sees our stake refunded if the card count ends level and looks worth chancing.
This one is purely a stats-based bet. If Leicester do pick up a card, it’ll more than likely be Wilfred Ndidi. The Midfielder averages more than double the amount of attempted tackles per-game than any of his teammates and ranks first for fouls per game of Leicester players to have played at least five times.
West Ham are direct which is a worry, they don’t really play through midfield but Ndidi has already been booked twice this season and the 5/1 on offer is simply too big.