West Ham v Leicester: Back Moyes' men to hammer home early European warning

Both West Ham and Leicester started their league seasons with wins last weekend and Mike Norman believes it's the Hammers that will make it two wins from two on Monday night...

Flying start for Hammers

It's only one game, but I thought West Ham's 4-2 victory at Newcastle last weekend went very much under the radar as a statement that last season's excellent top six finish was no fluke.

Remember, David Moyes' men finished just two points outside of the Champions League qualifying places last term, this despite winning just three of their last seven games, and in beating Newcastle last Sunday they were the highest-scoring away team and they comfortably recorded the best xG rating - 3.2, next best 2.4 - in the opening round of Premier League fixtures.

The Hammers' squad and strongest XI is largely unchanged from last season, and I view that as a positive given that the likes of Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Tomas Soucek, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen were all playing their first full season at the London Stadium.

They can surely only improve as a team with that campaign behind them.

Benrahma enjoyed an excellent pre-season, and he alongside Bowen and Michail Antonio ran a decent Newcastle side ragged last week. Keeping that trio fit will be key to how West Ham will do this term, but for now, given they are fit, and there's no Europa League to distract Moyes' thinking yet, West Ham look set to have another bright start to what should be another very good season.

They can be backed at 17.0 to record a Top 4 Finish, which might have some trading juice in it, but another Top 6 Finish at 4.8 looks well within their reach.

Foxes fortunate to beat Wolves

Leicester have also enjoyed a fine start to their campaign, lifting the Community Shield with a 1-0 win over Manchester City before beating Wolves by the same scoreline in their first league game last week.

And similar to West Ham, the Foxes enjoyed a fine season last term though there's a sense that falling out of the Champions League qualifying places on the very last day - for the second season running - will have meant that Brendan Rodgers' men enjoyed their summer break far less than Moyes' men.

Brendan Rodgers, Leicester.jpg

You can also argue that Leicester were quite fortunate in beating Wolves last weekend having registered just nine shots at goal but conceding 17, and recording the lowest xG rating - around 0.7 - of all the teams that enjoyed an opening day victory.

Jamie Vardy was the match winner last Saturday and he should form part of a familiar looking starting XI on Monday night with significant new signings Ryan Bertrand, Boubakary Soumare and Patson Daka not yet ready to breakthrough to the first team, though Jannik Vestergaard might start at the heart of the defence with both Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans out injured.

West Ham marginal but deserving favourites

The Match Odds market is finding it hard to form a clear favourite with West Ham trading at around 2.7 for the win, Leicester 2.86 and the Draw at 3.5.

That's probably about right given that the two clubs finished alongside each other in the Premier League last season, but my gut feeling is that the Hammers are still improving and following last Sunday's impressive display at Newcastle they should be clearer favourites.

West Ham also have home advantage here, and with full capacity crowds back it's been noticeable how many wins have gone to home sides in the Premier League so far - at the time of writing, 11 of the 16 matches have been won by home teams while the away sides have failed to score in nine of those 16 matches.

And it's also worth noting that West Ham done the double over Leicester last term, scoring three goals each times in home and away wins.

At 2.7 to back, a West Ham victory is my best bet of the game.

Back goals in Bet Builder wager

Given that West Ham were involved in a six-goal end-to-end game last weekend that featured 35 shots at goal I'm surprised that Over 2.5 Goals can be backed at 1.9 ahead of Monday's game.

The Hammers aren't going to change their attacking style, while Leicester are also a very good counter-attacking side. The last five meetings between these two teams have witnessed 20 goals, which is exactly four goals per match on average.

I'm also surprised that we can back West Ham at odds-against (11/10) on the Sportsbook to have at least five shots on target (they had nine away at Newcastle) so I'm going to combine those two options in a Bet Builder that pays out at exactly 2/1.

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