December 18, 2014

West Ham United and Leicester City are both coming off opening victories, but the latter likely understand why ensuing hype is latched to the former.

After winning at the Emirates Stadium, the Hammers return to Upton Park Saturday with heightened expectations as both clubs try to open a Premier League season with consecutive wins for the first time since 1997.

West Ham's 2-0 win over Arsenal Sunday was the shock of opening weekend in manager Slaven Bilic's club debut, despite allowing a division-high 22 shots, while 16-year-old Reece Oxford became the club's youngest player to take the field in Premier League play.

"I learned a lot from it because Arsenal probably have the strongest midfield in the Premier League," Oxford told the club's official website. "Playing against the best will make you the best, and (Mark Noble) and (Cheikhou Kouyate) helped me a lot in the game."

Kouyate scored in the 43rd minute before Mauro Zarate added to the lead in the 57th, and Kouyate also scored in the last meeting with Leicester.

Whether Oxford gets another start is in doubt because of another potential club debut. Pedro Obiang missed the opener because of a leg injury, but the former Sampdoria midfielder has returned to training and could face the Foxes.

"I'm looking forward to giving a slight headache to the manager to show that I'm ready to play," he said.

Both teams won at home last season with West Ham's coming in a 2-0 final on Dec. 20 to give them seven wins in eight Premier League matches between the two at Upton Park. Leicester's 2-1 home victory on Apr. 4 ended the Hammers' four-match winning streak in the series.

"We are in the Premier League and all the matches are difficult. Each weekend you have a match which is super difficult, there is no such thing as an easy game. We found that out last year," Kouyate said.

"Leicester have started well, they finished last season in confident fashion, because they finished so well. They've started well now, they scored four, so Saturday's not going to be easy."

The Foxes opened with a 4-2 home win over Sunderland on Saturday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead by the 25th minute to begin Claudio Ranieri's managerial stint with the club in impressive fashion. Riyad Mahrez scored twice while Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton added one each.

"It's a great feeling," Albrighton told the club's official website. "We're going to go through good and bad times this season - every side does - but if we can continue the support that goes with today's performance, then we'll do well by sticking together."

Vardy may have complicated that after it was announced he's the focus of a racism probe investigating his involvement in a Jul. 26 incident at a casino. The forward apologised for the matter, but the club is looking into it before determining a course of action.

West Ham's Diafra Sakho is also in the news for the wrong reasons after reportedly being arrested last Thursday on suspicion of assault, though the 10-goal scorer from a season ago played 89 minutes against Arsenal.

Dating to the April win over the Hammers, Leicester are on an 8-1-1 run with a plus-14 goal differential with a shot at their first six-match unbeaten streak since going eight in a row to begin the 2000-01 season. They went 2-0-1 on the road in that time, but it was part of a 4-12-3 away record for the season. Only relegated Queens Park Rangers' 16 losses topped that.

West Ham weren't exactly a home powerhouse, going 2-3-2 without a multigoal match in their last seven after a 3-0 win over Hull City on Jan. 18.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)