For 3 years now we have expected Allardyce to set his sides up not to lose, especially away from home. This year things are different.
Football often belies logic, and therein lies much of its charm but my bet is that West Ham will be relishing their trip to the midlands to face the Potters this Saturday.
We all know about the flair and form of the Hammers. The potency of our strike force and the rebirth of the West Ham way has taken the premiership by surprise and frankly, few are going to be able to live with it so long as the pivotal players stay fit. Sakho is apparently rated as 50/50 for this weekend’s encounter but other than that, Allardyce should have enough at his disposal to ensure that the Bookies at least give the Irons the edge in terms of the pre-match odds.
I get a sense that this could be a difficult season for Stoke City and their current form is not great. Despite a narrow win against Swansea City in their last home league game, they have lost twice to Southampton in a week, the last of those in a fixture at home in the Carling Cup on Wednesday evening where they were totally out-footballed for most of the match. Only the late introduction of Crouch and Adam even vaguely threatened the Saints’ dominance as the team from the South coast enjoyed their cultured brand of football dominating the more physical approach of Hughes’ men. When you look at who is out of contention for Stoke, it does strengthen the argument that it is the men from Upton Park who will start as favourites; Manager Mark Hughes will be without the services of Phil Bardsley and Peter Crouch through suspension, while Robert Huth (calf), Glenn Whelan (broken leg) and Peter Odemwingie (knee) are long-term absentees.