Relegation-threatened Leicester City will host West Ham United at the King Power Stadium for Premier League's final game of the season this Sunday in a must-win contest.
Anything less than a victory will spell demotion into the Championship for the King Power club, as even their safety won't get confirmed with all three points because results elsewhere will then come into play. The last league game doesn't put any such earth-shattering rewards for West Ham at stake.
Leicester's goalless draw at Newcastle made things much more anticipatory for their final opportunity. With 31 points, Dean Smith's side will have to secure a must-win result and hope for Bournemouth to defeat Everton- so they can make up for the two-point deficit against the Toffies for safety. Failure to do so would see the Foxes return to the second division after seven memorable years.
Positive results have been rare, with the East Midlanders drawing three and losing two of their last five games. Salvaging a point with an all-out defending strategy would provide some semblance for the Foxes. But they can't use that against West Ham, making it a challenging task.
If Leicester drops, they would be mirroring the demise of Blackburn Rovers, becoming the second side demoted from the division after winning it. Coincidentally, luck has not been favorable for the hosts as they have perished six times out of seven in their final Premier League games.
Hopefully, Smith can work around tactics to counter this- taking inspiration from the last time these two teams faced each other last November, where Leicester came out on top with a 2-0 win away from home.
More than this game, West Ham United will worry about playing in the Europa Conference League final in Prague against Fiorentina a week later. Winning a major silverware since the FA Cup 1980 would more than make up for their underwhelming domestic season under David Moyes.
The Hammers secured their safety last time around when they won with a 3-1 scoreline against Leeds. A victory against Leicester could make them climb to 13th to close out this season. Currently, the Irons sit 14th in the table, a point behind Wolves and a point ahead of Bournemouth.
Their form during the last five games has seen them lose thrice and win twice. Contrasting to the Foxes, the Hammers have only lost once in their previous six seasons for the final league game.
The hosts will have quite a few absentees as Caglar Soyuncu joins James Justin, Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, and Danny Ward on the sidelines. Wilfred Ndidi has a hamstring issue and remains doubtful about his availability.
The visitors won't retain the services of forward Gianluca Scamacca, while defender Emerson Palmieri remains in doubt.
Football fans around the U.K. can catch every action live on Sky Sports Premier League or Sky Sports Ultra HDR.
Expert Insight: Leicester has not recently been much of an offensive threat to their opposition. Maybe, through desperation, they can find better shooting boots for emergencies. West Ham will not care much here. They will likely operate with complete freedom. Winning will be demanding as both the teams have the equal quality to cancel each other's efforts.