Stoke V West Ham at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

02 March 2013 08:31
Stoke V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Huth banned for Stoke

Stoke will be missing Robert Huth in the Barclays Premier League home clash with West Ham as the centre-back begins the three-match suspension handed to him earlier this week by the Football Association.

Huth will serve the ban after accepting a violent conduct charge from the FA relating to an incident in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Fulham, where he caught Philippe Senderos in the face with his forearm. Either Marc Wilson or Geoff Cameron, both of whom usually play at full-back for the Potters, is set to cover in the middle of defence alongside skipper Ryan Shawcross.

Midfielder Steven Nzonzi will be wearing a protective face mask if he features having broken his nose in the match at Craven Cottage, while winger Matthew Etherington (back) and striker Michael Owen (thigh) will undergo late fitness tests.

Stoke, currently 10th, take on a 14th-placed West Ham side who will go level on points with them if they can secure victory at the Britannia Stadium.

That would halt a winless run of eight away league games for the Hammers, a sequence in which they have suffered seven losses.

Given that Stoke have been beaten on their own turf only once in the league all season, it looks like a long shot, but if the London outfit are to upset the form guide, their towering frontman Andy Carroll - on loan for the campaign from Liverpool - could be key.

In the absence of suspended centre-back Robert Huth, the Potters are set to move either Marc Wilson or Geoff Cameron, both of whom usually play at full-back, into the middle of defence to partner skipper Ryan Shawcross.

That may work to Carroll's advantage, although Pulis is keen to play down any such suggestion.

Regarding the defensive situation, Pulis said: "We have Marc Wilson, who has played centre-half before, and Geoff Cameron, who has played for the United States at that position, so we have got cover there.

"We have got Shawcross there as well, and I don't think it will be determined by that single battle (with Carroll), whichever way you look at it."

West Ham captain Kevin Nolan is out with a broken toe.

A foot injury was exacerbated in Monday's 3-2 loss to Tottenham and West Ham hope his absence will be temporary, while his fellow midfielder Mark Noble is doubtful with an arm problem which saw him miss the Spurs loss.

Guy Demel is fit despite going off in the latter stages of the loss to Tottenham, while George McCartney (knee) is continuing his comeback and is unlikely to feature.

The Hammers have just eight points from 13 away games all season and have lost their last five away matches in the Barclays Premier League.

Assistant manager Neil McDonald hopes United, who last picked up a point on the road in the December draw at West Brom and most recently claimed three in the win at Newcastle in mid-November, can improve their record of three wins in 18 matches and draw level on points with opponents Stoke.

"It's a stern test," said McDonald, who assumed manager Sam Allardyce's pre-match media duties.

"I think they're very well organised. They're quite direct with the way they play, into the forwards, then knocking it down and getting it wide.

"We have to deal with crosses, we have to deal with knock downs as well.

"Hopefully with our game and our game plan we can give them a little bit of a test as well.

"We're looking forward to the game and we're trying to put right what we haven't done over the last four or five away games."

Stoke have one win in five matches and McDonald hopes the Hammers can extend the hosts' poor run, having pushed high-flying Tottenham close on Monday night only for Gareth Bale to score twice to seal a 3-2 victory for his side at Upton Park.

McDonald added: "You always have to take something positive. Apart from Gareth Bale on Monday scoring two goals we've acquitted ourselves really well against a top-four team.

"If we do that away from home, we've got every chance of getting a result."

Source: PA