Hammers Look To Slice Open Stoke

Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk
James Collins should return against Stoke City on Tuesday morning (AEDT). Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk
It has been some time since West Ham United reached the rarefied air of fifth place on the English Premier League table, but that’s where they’ll be early Tuesday morning (AEDT) if they can secure the three points at home against Stoke City .

Sam Allardyce has done an impressive job so far this season, especially given the fact striker Andy Carroll – on a season-long loan from Liverpool – has yet to find the back of the net. Their form at Upton Park has been solid this campaign; their last two encounters at the Boleyn Ground have resulted in a 0-all draw with champion Manchester City and a 4-1 thumping of Southampton .

Stoke City has had a pretty soft run of late, featuring home games against QPR and Sunderland, as well as an away encounter with Norwich. Tony Pulis’s outfit has managed to score just one goal throughout the three-game run, but did pick up four points thanks to a 1-0 decision over Rangers and a scoreless draw with the Black Cats. Given the Canaries recent wins at home over Arsenal and Manchester United, the loss at Carrow Road can be forgiven.

Pulis is having some issues stocking his midfield, with Dean Whitehead (suspension) and Rory Delap (hernia) already out, while Glenn Whelan limped off during the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against Greece last week with a hamstring issue. The Potters’ record away from home is a concern, too, as they haven’t taken maximum points on the road since January 2 this year.

Neither manager is known for attractive football, but defensive structure is a priority. Stoke has failed to score in half of its away games so far, and nine of their eleven matches have finished with under 2.5 goals . In saying that, the Potters have come away with three draws from six starts away from the Britannia Stadium this campaign. 

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