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Saturday, 12 March 2011

Stoke City vs West Ham United: Preview


It was only last week that the Hammers were facing the Potters in the Premier League, that ended up being 3-0 to West Ham, with goals from Ba, Hitzlsperger and Da Costa. A similar result today would be a fantastic boost for Avram Grant and his teams survival hopes. But before the Hammers start celebrating a premature victory, they must remember that the Britannia Stadium isn't exactly the easiest place to go, just ask Man City and Liverpool.

Stoke City are well known in the Premier League for two reasons. The first one being Rory Delap, who can make a team crumble by using his bare hands (which he uses to throw footballs into the oppositions 16-yard box). The other reason is their staidum; the Britannia. It is regarded as a fortress by many clubs and a only a select few teams can outplay Stoke at the ground. This is shown by the fact that no-one has won there in 2011 (except for Stoke...obviously). The Potters will put Thomas Sorensen in goal instead of usual Number.1 Asmir Begovic and they will also might be without Jermaine Pennant

West Ham are well know for kidnapping small Argentinians from third party companies and making them play for their team in order to prevent relegation (I'm joking, he wasn't kidnapped, only Neil Warnock believes he was and look at him now, being docked points for cheating). The Hammers are a rejuvenated side. Thanks to the works of Thomas Hitzlsperger, they have won their last three matches, scoring 11 and conceding only two goals. Grant has now been able to restore some winning mentality into the club after they came back from three goals down to draw with West Brom 3-3. They will welcome back Obinna and Parker from injury, but Robbie Keane is still 50-50 to play.

KEY BATTLE: Carlton Cole vs Robert Huth

Believe or not, these two players are the top scorers for their clubs this season. Huth has scored 7 goals in all competitions and is tied with Johnathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones. Carlton Cole has scored 11 goals in total for the Hammers, but will have to be on form to get past former Chelsea defender Huth. Both of the players pose an ariel threat from set pieces and will be provided chances with some crisp crosses from Hitzlsperger or Ethrington. Carlton Cole is indeed a slippery character to mark, ask Jamie Carragher, who was knocked over by his strength and made a mockery out of as Cole drilled in the third goal against Liverpool.

Possible Line Ups

Stoke City: Sorensen, Wilson, Huth, Shawcross, Pugh, Whitehead, Delap, Pennant, Walters, Jones, Carew.
West Ham:  Green, Da Costa, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, Parker, Noble, Hitzlsperger, Cole, Piquionne, Ba.

My Prediction

Stoke will definitely want the victory more as they plan to seek revenge after last weeks thumping, but I can't see West Ham losing with this rich vein of form they seem to have developed. I'm going to predict 2-1 to the Hammers, Hitzlsperger and Cole grabbing goals in the first half before Walters gets an equalizer half way through the second, leading to a nail biting finish.

Billy Taylor

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