West Ham v Stoke

18 November 2012 02:46
Barclays Premier League Venue: Upton Park Date: Monday, 19 November Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (0) Match Stats Possession 50 50 Shots 0 0 On target 0 0 Corners 0 0 Fouls 0 0 TEAM NEWS West Ham manager Sam Allardyce may restore defender James Collins to his starting XI. Matthew Taylor has returned to training following a calf injury, but Jack Collison and Ricardo Vaz Te are long-term absentees. Stoke are monitoring the fitness of Glenn Whelan after he limped out of the Republic of Ireland's match with Greece in midweek with a hamstring injury. Dean Whitehead is suspended, while Jon Walters and Charlie Adam are doubts. MATCH PREVIEW A look at this season's results suggests a glut of goals is unlikely to materialise at Upton Park as West Ham and Stoke City put two of the Premier League's best defensive records on the line. They have conceded a miserly 21 goals between them in a combined 22 games played so far this season. LAWRO'S PREDICTION Mark Lawrenson Football Analyst "I had a beer with West Ham boss Sam Allardyce not so long ago and he said 'we are playing Manchester City next, then we have to go to Newcastle. This is what our season is like now - one tough game after another'. But they came out of those two games with four points and I don't think anyone is really that surprised by how they have done so far this season. Allardyce's team are well-drilled, well-organised, very competitive, make few mistakes and don't give you a minute's peace." Read Lawro's full prediction and score The Hammers are proving to be extremely hard to break down, as proven by clean sheets against Manchester City and Newcastle in their last two games. Stoke, although solid at the back, have scored just nine goals in their 11 league games so far and they are without an away win for 15 matches. It's a run of form that has baffled Potters' boss Tony Pulis. "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," he said. "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." Pulis's side have come under fire yet again for their brand of defensive football. Not, though, from Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, who is himself a firm advocate of building from the back. "Tony has suffered his fair share of criticism down the years for the way his teams play - but not from me", says Allardyce. "I believe the art of good defending is the catalyst to your team's success - or otherwise." Comparisons have been made between the way Allardyce has got West Ham playing and Pulis's Stoke, but Allardyce is having none of it. "They are not the same", he says. "Mine are not the same as Tony's. I'm an individual. Nobody copies Sam Allardyce. I don't copy anybody else." Stoke have played out three goalless draws in the Premier League this season, while West Ham are one of four sides to have played in two - odds on a 0-0 anyone? MATCH FACTS Head-to-head West Ham have won four and lost one of their last five home games against Stoke in all competitions. The Hammers were unbeaten in both Premier League meetings between the clubs in the 2010-11 season. They drew 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium and won 3-0 at Upton Park. Both sides have kept five clean sheets in the league this season - the joint highest in the top flight prior to the weekend. West Ham A Sam Allardyce-managed team has failed to beat or even score a goal against Stoke in the last four attempts. West Ham have won three and lost just one of their six home games in the league this season. Eighteen points from 11 matches is their equal-best points total at this stage of a Premier League season. Stoke City Stoke are winless in their last 15 Premier League away matches (D6, L9), scoring just eight goals in those games. The Potters have averaged 40.8% possession in top-flight matches this season, which is the lowest in the league. Their total of 12 points is the same as at the same stage of last season. 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Source: bbc_sport