Hammers and Foxes Draw Again
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 21 Apr 2019 13:11:00
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West Ham United didn't quite read the script, as a special pyrotechnic display to mark Claret and Blue Day looked to have ended a run of three games without a victory, but Leicester City were the party poopers, when a late equaliser meant they left Stratford with a share of the points on Saturday afternoon as they drew 2-2.

Manuel Pellegrini made two changes to the side that were unfortunate to leave Old Trafford empty-handed last weekend. Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio replaced the injured Javier Hernández and Manuel Lanzini.

Robert Snodgrass's one-match ban is currently pending an appeal, meaning he was able to retain his place in midfield.

There was a surprise inclusion on the bench, as Jack Wilshere was selected in the matchday squad for the first time since the 3-0 triumph at Newcastle United on 1 December.

West Ham started brightly but it was clear that James Maddison and Demarai Gray always posed a threat and Lukasz Fabianski had to be alert on several occasions. 

Snodgrass looked to have set up Antonio but Kasper Schemichel was quick off his line to prevent him from getting a telling touch.

The Hammers continued to press. Antonio was nearly on the end of another cross from Snodgrass, after great link-up play between the Scotsman and Felipe Anderson.

The home side were still dominating the play and should have gone ahead when Anderson forced an error from Foxes midfielder Youri Tielemans and bent a curling effort, which deflected off Antonio and went wide of the post.

With all the chances Antonio was having, it seemed certain that he would grab the first goal and on 37 minutes he was the man to beat Schmeichel. Mark Noble sent over an inch-perfect, left-footed cross for Antonio to beat Ben Chilwell in the air to head into the corner of the net.

Things looked good for the Hammers at half-time who were hoping to re-establish their home form, having lost to Everton in East London last time out. 

Despite the Foxes good form under new manager Brendan Rodgers, they didn't show too much of that here, as the Hammers controlled large periods of the the second-half and it was against the run of play when Jamie Vardy got in ahead of Fabián Balbuena to equalise from Chilwell's cross on 67 minutes.

The visitors almost produced a quick-fire turnaround through Wilfred Ndidi and then Maddison, but thankfully for the home faithful, both efforts flew just wide of the post.

On 72 minutes Pellegrini decided to make his first change as he brought on Pedro Obiang for Snodgrass and six minutes later he followed that change with another, as Lucas Pérez replaced the largely ineffectual Arnautovic.

The substitutions proved to be inspired as Obiang's powerful shot came back off the post and was followed up by Pérez.

Unlike his Premier League debut when he notched up two goals in the 3-1 home victory over Cardiff City in December, he was unfortunate not to repeat the feat here, as his second opportunity was chalked off for offside, although replays proved that, not for the first time in recent weeks, the linesman was mistaken.

On 85 minutes Pellegrini used his last substitution and this move ultimately proved to be disasterous. Wilshere replaced the skipper and the space created allowed Harvey Barnes, who had earlier been introduced for Marc Albrighton, to equalise deep into the five minutes of stoppage time to take the gloss off of another good performance.

The Hammers can now look ahead to their first visit to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for Saturday's early kick-off.

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