Stoke City-West Ham United Preview
LONDON (SE) - West Ham United will be looking to continue their excellent return to the Premier League when they welcome Stoke City to Upton Park on Monday evening.
The Hammers began the weekend in sixth place after 11 games - their best start at this stage of a top-flight season since 1986 - and have lost just once at home all season. Under manager Sam Allardyce, West Ham have followed a model not dissimilar to that of Stoke City, and 'Big Sam' acknowledged the likeness in his official press conference.
"We have the same philosophy in terms of we both want to defend well and make sure our team is organised and understand what's needed to be done in terms of game-plan," said Allardyce. "We both also have to maximise our resources to make sure that the club is successful. When you look at what Tony (Pulis) has done, Stoke fill their ground every week and have been doing so for years now."
Visitors Stoke have failed to win any of their last 15 away matches in the Premier League and have managed just eight goals in that run. However, manager Pulis believes that his team's performances on the road have not got the points that they deserved.
"The disappointing thing is that if you look at the performances this season away from home, we have probably been better than we have at home," said Pulis. "For some reason we just can't turn it into victories. There was the late penalty for Reading and the Wigan game where the goalkeeper makes that outstanding save. We played better at Manchester United this year than we have done previously, and we got a great point at Liverpool, deservedly so. We have played well - we just haven't turned it into wins.
"If you are asking me the reason why, I just can't work it out. We've certainly created lots of opportunities to win games of football, but we just haven't got over the line. But it will happen - I am absolutely convinced it will turn. As long as the players keep believing and working as hard as they have been, then we will be fine."
Stoke have doubts over Glenn Whelan, Jonathan Walters, Charlie Adam, Michael Owen and Rory Delap. Marc Wilson is out with a broken leg. West Ham have doubts over George McCartney, Matt Jarvis, Jack Collison and Yossi Benayoun. Ricardo Vaz Te remains out with a dislocated shoulder.
Stoke have visited Upton Park 39 times in the club's history, but have won just seven. The last meeting between the teams came in the FA Cup in 2011, with Stoke beating the Hammers 2-1. However, West Ham knocked the Potters out of the League Cup that season and also took four points off them in the league.