West Ham must beware of Stoke backlash
The Hammers take on Stoke for the second week running when they travel to the Britannia Stadium for their FA Cup quarter-final showdown on Sunday.
One thing is for sure – Stoke City can’t play as badly this weekend as they did at Upton Park on Saturday.
It almost seemed like Tony Pulis was keeping one or two of his star names out of the firing line as Kenwyne Jones, Matty Etherington and Ricardo Fuller all warmed the bench, but chances are they will all be there come Sunday.
Jones has already scored two goals against the Hammers this season and should have made it three at Upton Park with a header that was just a whisker wide of the mark.
Stoke are certainly a very different proposition on home territory.
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The roar of the Britannia Stadium is almost worth a goal to them and with the added excitement of the FA Cup quarter-final as well as live televison, it should certainly be quite an occasion.
The Potters have lost just four times at home this season, going down to Spurs, Manchester United, Blackpool and Fulham, but the last of those was back in December and they are currently on a run of six games unbeaten on home turf.
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So far in the FA Cup they haven’t had it easy.
They were forced into a replay in their third round clash with Cardiff City, coming through 2-0 in Wales in a game they were certainly not favourites for.
They then travelled to Wolves and beat them 1-0, while their fifth round clash with League One leaders Brighton & Hove Albion proved to be more straightforward as they eased through 3-0.
West Ham have certainly had the better of things between the two this season.
As well as Saturday’s thumping 3-0 victory in the league, they dumped Tony Pulis’ side out of the Carling Cup at Upton Park, 3-1 in extra time.
While back in September, West Ham earned a point in the league clash at the Britannia courtesy of Scott Parker’s goal, which was cancelled out by Jones’ equaliser.
Despite numerous League Cup clashes, the teams haven’t met in the FA Cup since way back in 1968 when two goals from John Sissons and another from Geoff Hurst were enough for a 3-0 win.
That may be a little too much to hope for this Sunday, even with the Hammers seemingly playing at the top of their game at the moment.
It will be difficult for West Ham to keep Stoke at bay, but they are full of goals at the moment and a replay may be on the cards, something that may prove a distraction to the Hammers’ survival cause.
Possible team: Begovic, Huth, Wilson, Shawcross, Delap, Etherington, Pennant, Whitehead, Walters, Jones, Fuller.
Stoke City 2 West Ham 2