The rumours started about two hours before Leicester City’s trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham on Sunday.
It started off on a fan forum, quickly migrated onto Twitter and before long even those Foxes fans sensible enough to stay off the social media cesspit had heard the whispers.
In a strange twist of fate those rumours first posted on an internet message board turned out to be true, with Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury all omitted from Leicester’s squad for breaking coronavirus regulations.
To turn matters from frustrating to downright embarrassing, the story broke just before Brendan Rodgers’ side went 3-0 down against one of their closest top four rivals. Now, this is not going to be a piece adding to the pile-on. There will plenty of those to enjoy throughout the week elsewhere, if you are that way inclined.
Instead, this will focus on something that we do know the full story of: Leicester’s horrific performance and defeat to the Hammers. Without wanting to take too much away from David Moyes’ side – whose clinical finishing continues to amaze – the Foxes’ defensive display was arrogant and naive, two adjectives rarely used to describe Rodgers’ charges this season.
For West Ham’s opener, Jesse Lingard, one of the in-form players in Europe, was allowed to ghost into the box unchallenged. For their second, Wesley Fofana stopped to admire the London Stadium’s architecture for a few seconds instead of tracking Jarrod Bowen. Kasper Schmeichel also suffered a rare brain fart, being caught in no-man’s land and allowing Lingard to grab a second against his former club. Yes, Lingard did play for Leicester.
The Hammers’ third goal also featured a comedy of errors. First Kelechi Iheanacho’s trampoline first touch returned after a two-month hiatus, giving West Ham the perfect opportunity to break forward. Fofana was again at fault later on in the move, being slow to snuff out the potential danger of Bowen standing unmarked in the Foxes’ box.
Although a fine brace from the irrepressible Iheanacho made the scoreline look a lot more attractive in the second half, it did not extinguish the demons of a scarring opening 47 minutes.
While watching the horrorshow unfold it was impossible not to think back to Leicester’s equally horrific 4-1 defeat to Bournemouth last season. This result fired the starting pistol of the Foxes’ season imploding in spectacular fashion and Rodgers will be desperate to avoid a repeat this time out.
However, the signs do not look good. His blank in the West Ham defeat stretched Jamie Vardy’s scoreless run to seven games and reports suggests that Maddison et al’s indiscretions have attracted the ire of some of their teammates.
Saying all that, if Leicester manage to beat Southampton and progress to their first FA Cup final of the modern era, all of this might be forgotten. Lose, though, and the ‘end of season bottlers’ label will be difficult to shake.