With two Premier League games to go and measures long past desperate, Dean Smith was unapologetic with the approach Leicester City adopted for the trip to Newcastle United on Monday.
Hunkering down in an unyielding back five, Leicester - with the help of the woodwork - eked out a 0-0 draw, the club's first Premier League clean sheet since the World Cup. The Foxes didn't attempt their only effort of the match until the 92nd minute - the longest wait for a team's first shot in any Premier League game this season.
"If it's too little, too late, who knows?" Smith reflected. "But we've taken it to Sunday now."
Leicester's rearguard action nudged the Foxes up to 18th but has ensured that there is a chance of Premier League survival in the final set of fixtures this weekend. Here's how Leicester need events to play out to ensure Monday's efforts were not too late.
What Leicester need to avoid relegation
Beat West Ham
No ifs, buts, or maybes. If Leicester harbour any hope of escaping the relegation zone this weekend, they absolutely have to beat West Ham.
David Moyes' side were embroiled in this relegation scrap a couple of months ago but managed to pull away while advancing to a European final. There will be ten days between West Ham's trip to the King Power Stadium and the Europa Conference League showpiece against Fiorentina, giving Moyes licence to deploy his first-choice XI.
As Leeds United found out last Sunday, even a weary West Ham can still pose a considerable threat to relegation-haunted foes.
Leicester vs West Ham H2H Results (Last Five Games)
Until the hard-fought stalemate against Newcastle, Leicester's previous Premier League clean sheet was in their most recent meeting with West Ham. James Maddison opened the scoring in a 2-0 victory last November before hobbling off with an injury which plagued his World Cup with England that month. Harvey Barnes also found the net but both he and Maddison were controversially benched against Newcastle.
Leicester have only won one of their last five meetings with the Hammers, shipping 12 goals in this spell across the previous three years. In his continued search for solidity, Smith may stick with his reactive approach.
- Leicester: 1 win
- West Ham: 3 wins
- Draws: 1
Hope Everton don't defeat Bournemouth
Even if Leicester can complete the league double over West Ham, safety is not entirely in their hands.
Everton will start Sunday with a two-point advantage over Leicester. The safety of Sean Dyche's side can be guaranteed by a win against Bournemouth at Goodison Park. However, if Everton draw against the Cherries, Leicester can climb up to 17th by virtue of their far healthier goal difference (-18) compared to the Toffees (-24).
Leeds can theoretically overtake the Foxes on the final day but they would need a nine-goal swing to pull it off.
Everton vs Bournemouth H2H Results (Last Five Games)
Everton are in a wretched run of form against Bournemouth, losing their last four meetings. Marco Silva, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank Lampard (twice) have all failed where Dyche is hoping to succeed this weekend.
For context, the Brazilian winger Bernard was in the last Everton team to beat Bournemouth.
However, three of these defeats - including two in the space of four days last November - were played at Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium. Across the south coast club's entire history, they have lost six of their seven competitive visits to Goodison Park - and that solitary win was behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Everton: 1 win
- Bournemouth: 4 wins
- Draws: 0
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