Hammers will look to win at Stoke

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.

Carroll looks forward and the talk is now of Europe, if you please!

We may be less than two weeks away from seeing the big man on the bench, which is an enticing prospect as a possible 70th minute substitution, assuming the latest Sakho information is correct and the Senegalese man is indeed only to miss the trip to Stoke and will therefore be available for the home match against Villa, the same game that Carroll could himself be back available. I am assuming he’ll be eased back in gently, as well as that he would not be able to edge out Sakho as first choice for a while yet.

Carroll is the subject of an interview hosted by the club website and is unsurprisingly excited about the way things are going just at the moment. He is quick to applaud the role of the new recruits, to highlight the the mouth-watering prospect of being on the end of some of those in-swinging crosses from Cresswell and he is also upbeat about the ambitions of the side this season.

Indeed, he is quoted as saying  “I think we can push right on for Europe. I don’t see why not – I think all the lads are positive about that and I know the gaffer is too.”

Which got me thinking, ‘Really? Is that what we actually want this year?’

Unsurprising failure in the prediction league this week!

Well, the plaudits this week go to BOMAD and to Digger who not only were the only participants to predict that we would beat Manchester City, they also got the score right! Indeed, Digger has so far predicted two out of three correct scores and three correct results. Surely he will get undone in the next 3 games somewhere along the line; he predicted 6 straight wins at the start of the process, in a most un-ClaretandBlues-like fashion!

Next week the opinions are totally divided, with 8 of us going for a draw, 6 for a Stoke win and 3 for a Hammers win.

Contributor

WHU vs CITEH

Points

Total

Digger

2 – 1

5

13

Bomad

2 – 1

5

11

American

Hammer

1 – 3

-1

9

AoF

0 – 2

-1

7

ClaretNBlues

1 – 3

-1

7

FrankieMacsJockStrap

1 – 2

-1

7

Sanctown Hammer

1 – 2

-1

7

Stelios J

0 – 2

-1

7

Roshi

1 – 1

0

6

Alan Carter

1 – 3

-1

5

DevoDevo

0 – 1

-1

5

Florida Hammer

1 – 3

-1

5

Headmaster

1 – 2

-1

5

RazorWine

1 – 3

-1

5

SafHammer

0 – 3

-1

5

Goatygav

2 – 2

0

3