Perhaps David Moyes should stay away more often. For the second successive week, West Ham prospered under the auspices of his assistant Alan Irvine. Self-isolating at home as he recovers from Covid-19, Moyes could watch his side follow a superb display against Wolves with a similarly accomplished demolition of Leicester.
What threatened to be a poor beginning to the season when West Ham succumbed to a lame, tame defeat to Newcastle has been transformed into a fine one.
In contrast, Leicester were the early pacesetters but their 100 percent start is over. Perhaps it was inevitable they would not replicate the brilliance they displayed in last week’s 5-2 thrashing of Manchester City, but this was too much of an anti-climax for their liking.
The first team ever to score five goals in a game against a Pep Guardiola side did not even muster a shot on target; even a slickly-worked 'goal' Harvey Barnes scored in injury time was chalked off due to a marginal offside decision. Leicester's day was summed up by Jamie Vardy's lone chance, which came in the 90th minute and which he skewed wide.
He was outshone by Michail Antonio, stand-in striker turned regular finisher. This was another vindication of West Ham’s absent manager. Moyes has sidelined West Ham’s biggest signings, in Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson, for the scorers Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen.
Industrious and organised, West Ham showed the qualities they lacked too often under Manuel Pellegrini. They defended deep, restricting the space for Vardy, and gave Leicester a taste of their own medicine with quick, menacing counter-attacks, capped by some clinical finishing.
Their opener stemmed from a free kick Antonio won himself when he was bundled over by Caglar Soyuncu. Aaron Cresswell emerged from the back three to cross and Antonio, unmarked at the far post, angled a header beyond Kasper Schmeichel for his seventh goal in four away league games.
Cresswell is a fine crosser but his second assist was more unconventional. Perhaps it was just a punt forward, but his up-and-under released Fornals, who took a wonderful touch as he sprinted clear before beating Schmeichel at his near post. This week it was Leicester who were caught on the break. They almost were again.
Jonny Evans’ fine block may have prevented Fornals from scoring another. The irrepressible Antonio was his supplier and the forward’s capacity to evade all three of Leicester’s centre-backs was apparent again when he met the debutant Vladimir Coufal’s cross, though this header was easier for Schmeichel.
Most remarkably, Declan Rice broke from his own half to rifle a shot that struck the underside of the bar. Eventually Bowen, who was forever bright on the right, did add a third with an assured finish after Fornals’ defence-splitting pass. The excellent Rice had begun the move.
Leicester had illustrated their powers of recovery after going behind at the Etihad. There was no similar sequel. With Angelo Ogbonna outstanding, Leicester were subdued. Lukasz Fabianski could savour life as a spectator.
A more annoyed onlooker, Brendan Rodgers, changed shape twice. The borrowed Roma winger Cengiz Under came on for a debut when Daniel Amartey limped off. His was a lively cameo, but otherwise it was a depressing day for Leicester and a glorious one for Moyes as he worked from home.