West Ham United host Stoke City at the London Stadium on Monday, in what can truly be described as a six-pointer in the Premier League’s relegation battle. 

By 90Min
April 16, 2018

West Ham United host Stoke City at the London Stadium on Monday, in what can truly be described as a six-pointer in the Premier League’s relegation battle. 

West Ham’s hard-fought 1-1 draw away at Chelsea in their last league outing, coupled with 18th-placed Southampton’s defeat to Arsenal, saw the Hammers pull six points clear of the relegation zone. 

Victory over Paul Lambert’s side would see David Moyes’ men take a vital step towards securing their safety. Stoke, meanwhile, still languish perilously in 19th place, following their previous 2-1 defeat at home to Tottenham. The Potters’ trip to the capital serves up a must-win encounter in their fading bid for survival.


Form

West Ham’s form has taken a significant turnaround in recent weeks, one which must continue in the crucial weeks to come. David Moyes’ side had looked doomed to the drop in the previous couple of months. 

Back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Liverpool and Swansea City, followed by a bruising 3-0 defeat at home to Burnley left a huge cloud looming over the Hammers’ underperforming players, a struggling manager and a much-derided board. 

Subsequent fan unrest and pitch invasions elevated the club’s problems to boiling point. The relief of a 3-0 win at home to fellow strugglers Southampton at the end of March, followed by last week’s battling performance and well-earned point at Stamford Bridge, have seemingly halted what seemed to be an imminent derailment of the Hammers’ survival hopes. 

A slight releasing of the tension and a collective sigh of temporary relief can be felt all around East London, though the recent revival of form must continue against Stoke. A daunting run of fixtures follows, including showdowns with Arsenal, champions-elect Manchester City and the hosting of Manchester United.

Stoke, meanwhile, are in deep trouble. A run of nine league games without a win is a huge cause for concern for Paul Lambert. His side have not taken any points from a match since a 0-0 draw with relegation rivals Southampton at the beginning of March, a game which they surely had to win. 

A tricky run of fixtures since then has seen the Potters suffer four consecutive defeats. Clashes with high-flying Burnley, Champions League semifinalists Liverpool, and another survival showdown with Crystal Palace all lie in-waiting for Lambert’s men. The onus to pull off a success in Stratford on Monday could not be bigger for Stoke. Their clinging grasp on Premier League status could hinge on it.


Previous Encounter

Memories of West Ham’s 3-0 defeat of Stoke at the bet365 Stadium just before Christmas will provide the Potters with little comfort or encouragement heading into this match. 

Ex-Stoke star Marko Arnautovic returned to his old stomping ground to steal the show for the Hammers, leading his new side to victory with a dramatic goal and controversial celebrations. Though Stoke were the dominant side in possession and in shot taking, it was West Ham who displayed the greater ruthlessness in capitalizing on their chances and ultimately putting the home side to the sword. 

With a significant raising of the stakes since that reverse festive fixture, Stoke must capitalise on their crucial need for victory at the London Stadium and show that they have the quality and fight to stay in the top flight.


Team News

It remains to be seen whether Argentine talisman Manuel Lanzini will be fit to return for West Ham on Monday night, as the attacker has been struggling with a knee injury and remained absent from the side for last week’s trip to Chelsea. 

Given the magnitude of his side’s clash with Stoke, David Moyes may be tempted to bring Lanzini back into contention. James Collins’s prospects of returning for this match are similar, as the Welsh defender has been struggling with a hamstring injury for almost a month, though the need for experience and fight in such an important match may see Collins return to the side on Monday. 

Andy Carroll’s availability for this match will also be one to keep an eye on, though his return to action may take more time following a longer term absence with a foot fracture. Pedro Obiang remains on the sidelines, while Michail Antonio, Winston Reid and Sam Byram are not expected to feature again this season for West Ham.

For Stoke, Paul Lambert will continue to be without the services of midfielder Charlie Adam, who serves the final game of his three match ban following his red card against Everton. 

Elsewhere, forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been struggling with a groin strain which enforced his continued absence in last week’s defeat to Tottenham, though he may return for to face the Hammers and provide Stoke’s attack with some much-needed impetus. Goalkeeper Lee Grant remains in the treatment room with a broken wrist.


Predicted Lineups

West Ham (3-4-2-1): Hart; Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku; Mario, Arnautovic; Hernandez.

Stoke (4-4-1-1): Butland; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Bauer, Allen, Ndiaye, Sobhi Ahmed; Shaqiri; Diouf.


Prediction

Though Stoke’s need for victory in this game is much greater - given their alarming run of form - it is hard to see them mustering up the quality to see off a West Ham side who are finding form at the right time. 

It is a confidence game and Stoke simply do not have it right now. The draw at Stamford Bridge raised the spirits of the West Ham team and supporters alike. It should provide them with the momentum and drive to deliver a similar performance level against a Stoke side which they have already demonstrated an ability to beat comfortably this season. 

Javier Hernandez proved his worth against Chelsea with a crucial equalizer last time out, and with support from the buoyant Marko Arnautovic and the flair of Joao Mario or Manuel Lanzini, West Ham are well equipped to compound the doom and gloom for Stoke and consign the Potters to a fifth straight defeat and an ever-more desperate situation in their bid for survival.

Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Stoke

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