West Ham must look for back-to-back league wins

The Hammers take on Stoke City in yet another must-win game at Upton Park on Saturday.

UPTON PARK will witness a real rarity this weekend and I am not talking about a Luis Boa Morte goal.

The clash with Stoke City will take place at the ridiculous time and day of 3pm on Saturday, have you heard of anything more ridiculous?

It will be the Hammers first 3pm Saturday clash since December 11 when Manchester City came, saw and conquered, but lots has happened since that dismal day and West Ham fans will go into this match with confidence.

Stoke City sit 10th in the Premier League table after their far from convincing 1-1 home draw with West Brom on Monday night, but despite that, their 34 points leaves them just six clear of the relegation zone.

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Tony Pulis’ side have won three away league games this season – taking the points at Newcastle (2-1), West Brom (3-0) and Blackburn (2-0), but their tally of 32 goals this term is one less than the Hammers.

Back in September at the Britannia Stadium, Kenwyne Jones equalised Scott Parker’s opener to grab a share of the spoils, but it was West Ham on top at Upton Park in the Carling Cup.

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Again Jones was on target, but Parker levelled and then Manuel da Costa and Victor Obinna saw them off in extra time.

That then, is the case for a West Ham win, but there are plenty of other factors to suggest that Stoke will have a big shout in this game.

The way they play may be the biggest one. They are likely to play with big men Jones and John Carew, plus Jon Walters and Ricardo Fuller in and around the team and with Rory Delap delivering his bombs into the box that is always going to put the Hammers defence under pressure.

Jones and Walters have seven goals each this season, with defender Robert Huth matching them, suggesting that set-pieces will be their main threat.

Former Hammer Matty Etherington has picked up another knock making him doubtful for the game and that may be a blessing for the Hammers as they look to make it three wins on the trot.

Last season’s clash was a dark day for West Ham fans.

They went into it desperate for a home victory, but Fuller’s solitary striker proved enough to take all three points and many believed that would signal the end of West Ham’s Premier League status.

In the end they survived despite defeat, but the Hammers will not be wanting to go through the same thing again this time round.

They need a victory and at the moment they are playing well, so they should have just enough to see them home, before we all reconvene in the Potteries next week for the FA Cup quarter-final.

Possible team: Begovic, Huth, Wilson, Shawcross, Pugh, Delap, Pennant, Whitehead, Walters, Jones, Carew.


West Ham 2 Stoke City 1

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