These two sides will have ambitions of a top ten finish and they remain the only two sides to beat Manchester City this season, showing both have a lot of quality in their ranks. West Ham are currently in the top four showing the improvement they have showed this season, which has culminated in two wins against last season’s top two. Stoke will offer a hard test for West Ham as its never easy to go to Stoke and get three points. Mark Hughes’ side look very inconsistent as they have got some good results, but they have also struggled in some matches you would expect them to take points in. Without their freak win at Manchester City, they would be 17th.
Stoke City are positioned nicely in 12th, but losses against Leicester, Sunderland and Aston Villa have meant they haven’t pushed on to the levels of Southampton and West Ham, which they could have given their incredible finish to last season. The likes of Bojan, Mame Biram Diouf and Steve Sidwell have yet to settle in the Stoke side, and they don’t look any better than they were last season, which is a worry, but they are still set for a good campaign as they look far too strong for relegation.
The away side have won their last three matches, and have shown that sticking by Sam Allardyce was a great decision as West Ham are now playing attractive, attacking and effective football, overcoming both Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks, showing their class. Alex Song has had a massively positive effect on the West Ham side, proving bite and consistency in the Hammers’ midfield, something they haven’t had for a long side. Many were shocked Song went to West Ham and he has shown he has the ability to play at a higher level, it was a fabulous move by Allardyce. In fact all of his dealings in the summer were impressive as Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho and Aaron Cresswell all look Premier League quality.
In this fixture last season, the home side ran out 3-1 winners with Peter Crouch, Marko Arnautovic and Peter Odemwingie scoring the goals, while Andy Carroll scored the only goal for the Hammers. The Potteries also won the reverse fixture 1-0 at Upton Park with Jermaine Pennant scoring from a free kick. Stoke will be hoping their good record against West Ham continues this weekend.
Stoke have only scored 8 goals this season, which is more than only Burnley and Aston Villa. It’s obvious Stoke lack goalscorers and if this continues, it could see Stoke face huge problems come the new year.
West Ham have only lost once in the last six games showing the good form they are in, especially given the quality of the opposition they have faced. They have a good run over the next month and could keep their position in the top six for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Shawcross has been in the public eye in recent weeks for his role at corners, with Mark Hughes stating that the defender is targeted by referees and as such Stoke are conceding a lot of unfair penalties. He is however one of the most consistent players in the division, rarely being bullied by strikers, and he doesn’t have many bad games. This weekend, he will be facing a West Ham attack that has been impressive in recent weeks, and the Stoke captain will have to be on the top of his game to ensure his side has the best chance of winning the fixture. The likes of Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho if fit, could find it difficult against a physical centre half like Ryan Shawcross, who is symbolic of the English game.
The Ecuadorian forward has already made his mark in English football, making those who saw his signing as a risk based on one World Cup very foolish. He was integral to West Ham’s victory against Manchester City, creating the first goal for Morgan Amalfitano. The Champions couldn’t deal with his pace or dribbling ability as he was beating Gael Clichy and Eliaquim Mangala far too easily down Manchester City’s left hand side. He has has only got two goals and assists, which isn’t as many as you would expect after the plaudits he has received, but his overall game has offered the Hammers so much more. Stoke will have to watch out for the danger he poses from long shots and headers.
Robert Huth, Peter Odemwingie and Glenn Whelan will all still be missing for Stoke through injury. Peter Crouch is suspended after getting two yellows in the Capital One Cup tie against Southampton, therefore Diouf may be given the chance to lead the line, he himself scored in that match.
Matt Jarvis and Diafra Sakho are both doubts going into this match, the latter would be a huge loss after scoring in his last six matches for the Hammers. Carlton Cole could start if he misses out. Mauro Zarate and Guy Demal will be missing for the home side, while Andy Carroll remains a month away from returning to action.
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I think West Ham’s three game winning streak will come to an end this week, as Stoke are very difficult to beat at home. They will be keen to get back to winning ways after successive losses to Southampton in the league and the cup. If Diafra Sakho doesn’t make it, that will be a huge miss for West Ham. The Hammers may underestimate Stoke after beating both Liverpool and Manchester City and that would be a disaster given the quality and experience in the Stoke side. I think both sides will score, but Stoke will win.
Stoke 2-1 West Ham