Matchday: West Ham versus Stoke City

Can we look forward to an afternoon of ooohs and aaahs or will the players be getting a rocket?

West Ham StokeA game at the heavily scrutinised London Stadium on a day known for fires and explosions – what could possibly go wrong?  Today’s visitors are the mostly harmless Stoke City who after a disastrous start to the season come to London today unbeaten in their last 5 matches.  Known as the Potters after the eponymous boy wizard (itself is a reference to Stoke’s most famous ever player, wizard of the dribble, Stanley Matthews) the club is competing in their 9th consecutive Premier League campaign following the promotion in 2008 which ended a 23 year ‘spell’ in the wilderness.  When Stoke were relegated in 1985 they did so with a record low number of points for the 22 team, 3 points-a-win top flight.

“I would rather have us creating chances and waiting for a moment to convert them than not create them at all. We are disappointed with the Everton result but we are on a good path, we are there, and we are going to score goals.”

– Slaven Bilic

A game that we will be very much hoping to win as our theoretical easier run of games comes to halt just before yet another international break and a chance to do the Christmas shopping.  A few West Ham – Stoke connections that spring to mind are that Geoff Hurst played for both clubs, Lou Macari managed both and both were briefly owned by Icelandics at some point in their history.

Head to Head

Another close run head to head record that shows an emphasis on home victories with Stoke’s visits to the capital being as fruitless as our ventures to the north-westwards.  Two of their seven victories have, however, been in the last six encounters. History reveals a healthy goal haul from home games against the Potters which hopefully can be repeated this afternoon.

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

40

20

13

7

70

35

DDLDWW

Away

41

11

8

22

43

62

LDLWLD

81

31

21

29

113

97

Team News

Winston Reid is suspended  and injured although the latter might just be a convenient excuse to avoid travelling down under for two World Cup fixtures against New Caledonia.  Potential replacement Reece Oxford has also picked up an injury which opens the door for the more probable replacement James Collins and his silky passing skills.  With still no striker to speak of available our sources (I read it on the internet) suggest that there will be a return to the starting lineup for Andre Ayew with Edmilson Fernandes dropping out.  While welcoming Ayew’s return it would be disappointing for Fernandes, one of our better players last week, to be demoted to the bench.  Slav says the players now feel at home at the London Stadium but I get the impression that he is trying to convince himself that everything is going to be alright rather than anything else.

“We’re looking forward to every game we play now because we’re playing some good stuff now and we’re playing with confidence.”

– Mark Hughes

Stoke have Arnautovic missing through suspension with Shaqiri doubtful and a few other longer term injuries including Butland, Cameron and Johnson.  Danger men are Bony, who open his Stoke account last week against former club Swansea, and Joe Allen.

Man in the Middle

Andre Marriner from Birmingham is today’s top official.  This is his 7th Premier League game of the season during which time he has brandished 1 red and 24 yellow cards whilst at the same time missing Aguero’s elbow assault on Winston Reid at the Etihad.