It’ll be an over-18s only show at the Britannia today as two misfiring heavyweights collide in search of much needed Premiership safety points. Both sides have picked up a mere 4 points in the last possible 18 and will be seeking to reverse fortunes. West Ham in particular will still be smarting from the stunning last minute Gareth Bale winner at Upton Park on Monday.
The Hammers will be without injured club captain Kevin Nolan which will make for some interesting viewing for Hammers faithful, many of whom still insist that his work rate around the field is insufficient despite his handy habit of popping up with useful goals as well as his verbal presence on the field. Previous spells without their captain have not been characterised by major shifts in form, so the debate continues unresolved. Otherwise, mark Noble seems well recovered after a midweek knock and it seems likely that Gary O’Neil will get the nod to show what he can do as a replacement midfielder.
Happily for the Hammers, Andy Carroll is starting to hit form and will relish taking on a Stoke defence that will also be lacking in the head department with the absence of Robert Huth. The Hammers have good strength in depth with a variety of midfield options if the O'neil gamble doesn't work, and of course, carlton Cole will relish any opportunity to again impress Tony Pulis who has coveted the striker for many years. Hands off our Carlton mate!!! Perhaps Big Sam might see fit to give Wellington Paulista a run as he has been thumping them in for the stiffs.....Stoke would vertainly be an interesting baptism for the stylish Brazilian recruit!
Either way, expect a smashing match!