MATCH PREVIEW: West Ham United v Stoke City
Stoke City head to the London Stadium in form that after the first few weeks of the season not many would have seen coming. Three wins on the bounce has shot the Potters up the table but the points have come from teams that have struggled themselves.
Stoke come up against West Ham who have also had a problematic start to the season. The Hammers are just above the relegation zone in 17th place, losing six of their first ten games.
Both sides have won three games apiece so far this term and will be desperate to get the three points. West Ham will be hoping to really kick start their tenure at the London Stadium whilst Stoke are searching for a fourth consecutive win. A feat that last occurred five years ago in December 2011.
Kick Off: Saturday @ 15:00
Odds (as of 12:00 Friday): West Ham – Evens, Draw – 13/5, Stoke – 3/1
Last Time Out: Stoke City 2 West Ham 1
West Ham United have struggled to get used to their new surroundings in the London Stadium so far this season. Trouble off the pitch has mirrored their difficulties on it. News that there will be stewards between the Stoke and West Ham fans seemed like an obvious move and one that will be sure to settle down the nerves of any peaceful Stokies.
Winston Reid, who would have missed the game through suspension, is West Ham’s only fresh fitness concern, James Collins will take the New Zealand international’s place.
Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Sam Byram and Gokan Tore remain among the long-term absentees for Bilic, who is likely to continue with the 3-4-2-1 that has brought something of an upturn in results.
Stoke Injury News
Stoke, unbeaten in three games under Mark Hughes against West Ham, could be without Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri whilst Geoff Cameron will require a fitness test. The other obvious blow for Stoke is the loss of Marko Arnautovic after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and received a one-match suspension.
Ibrahim Afellay, Jack Butland and Glen Johnson are among some of the key first-teamers also unavailable to Hughes.
Ones to watch
Record signing Andre Ayew is back in the starting line-up for West Ham, and is likely to feature as the spearhead of their attack. Ayew was a key player for Swansea last season and would have been hoping to repeat his form in the claret and blue this term. Injury in his first game for the Hammers cut those dreams short so he will be hoping to make a name for himself in London after his big money move.
One of the stars of the show for Stoke last week was Ramadan Sobhi. The young Egyptian had missed out on being in the squad at all in recent weeks but after injury forced Xherdan Shaqiri off the pitch Sobhi came off the bench to force a goal against Swansea earlier in the week. Shaqiri and Arnautovic are likely to both be out of this one so the Egyptian could be expected to be Stoke’s leading creative light once more.
Written by @bajcartwright. How do you see the game going? Let me know on Twitter!
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