West Ham are enjoying one of their best starts to a Premiership campaign and the match against Stoke will feel as an excellent opportunity to further improve their league position. Meanwhile, the Potters came from a goal behind to defeat Crystal Palace at home and they will be searching for their first points on the road.
Former England internationals making waves
While other Premier League managers continue to splash the cash on foreign players, Sam Allardyce is thinking local, luring some high-quality English players to Boleyn Ground on cut-price deals. As a result, the Hammers now have players like Joe Cole, Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis, Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan in their ranks, with all these footballers making a huge difference shortly after arriving at the club. Buoyed by some very good performances last season, West Ham enjoyed an excellent start to the new campaign, defeating Cardiff City at home before also playing well in a goalless draw at Newcastle. Even with Andy Carroll still unavailable through injury, the Hammers continue to be a real danger up front, with their numerous attacking midfielders making life difficult for opposition defenders. Meanwhile, their back line looks stronger than ever, with both Winston Reid and James Collins making some crucial interceptions at St James’ Park last weekend. And with Momo Diame and Mark Noble bossing the midfield, this team appear to have the perfect balance and I can certainly see them defeating Stoke City on the road to what should be another top table finish.
Andy Carroll is not yet ready to return from a heel injury, but all other players are fit and ready for the battle with Stoke City.
Stoke still finding their form
All football pundits are at pain to explain just why was Tony Pulis sacked from the post after leading Stoke City to unimagined heights, while I am pretty sure club fans were hardly ecstatic when they found out Mark Hughes was appointed in his place. The former Manchester City boss hasn’t made too many changes to the squad, but he does appear to want his side to discard the long-ball tactics that made them famous in the first place. As things stand now, it looks as though Hughes wants his side to be more like West Ham, who remain pretty physical and strong in the air, while also being able to break their opponents through some slick passing. However, it is hard to expect Stoke can beat the Hammers in their own game, especially given team’s poor record on Premiership travels. The Potters didn’t look too bad in the opening matches against Liverpool and Crystal Palace, but it is pretty obvious that while the team are still finding their form, Hughes continues to search for the strongest starting line-up. Stoke may have survived their last trip to Boleyn Ground, with that encounter ending all squared but I seriously doubt they can stop high-flying West Ham in their tracks this time out.
Wilson Palacios and Brek Shea returned into action in the Capital One Cup victory over Walsall, but Jamie Ness continues to miss out.
While the two sides are pretty evenly matched when it comes to physical side of things, West Ham are technically superior and are clearly in much better shape at the moment. With the Hammers even stronger than last term, they should be able to dispose of one of Premier League’s worst travellers.
Top pick: Home win 2.00 (1/1) @ Betfred
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.73 (8/11) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: West Ham to win to nil 3.30 (23/10) @ Coral
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