Stubborn Stoke To Frustrate In-Form Hammers
The final Premier League action of the weekend comes from the Boleyn Ground where in-form West Ham can move up to fifth place in the table, if they can see off Tony Pulis's stubborn Stoke team.
The Irons have equalled their best ever start to a Premier League campaign accumulating 18 points from their opening 11 matches, including the point earned from holding reigning champions Man City in their last home game before taking all the points and the plaudits from a tough away game at Newcastle.
Stoke City arrive in east London having not won away from home all season, with their poor run of form away from the Britannia stretching to 15 matches (Drawn 6, Lost 9). It is upfront where Tony Pulis is having the most troubles. His team have scored just nine goals in their eleven league games so far this season, meaning there's been little reward for the outstanding defensive work orchestrated by Ryan Shawcross and co. The Potters have one of the most solid backlines in the division and had recorded five clean-sheets, the joint highest in the Premier League, before the weekend's games.
The match betting only goes to emphasise West Ham's strength at home, where they have won three and lost only one of their six league games, as they are priced up as Even Money favourites. When you consider that they have won four of their last five home games against Monday's opposition it is no surprise to see why they are favoured.
The visitors can be backed at 3/1, which in my opinion is a decent price for a steady Premier League outfit playing against a newly promoted team. Draw No Bet Stoke at 13/8 is an excellent bet I feel, as they possess the quality and mental toughness to triumph, and this poor run must come to an end at some point.
The draw is priced at 21/10 but if you feel that the price is not big enough, the 0-0 result at 8/1 should be worth considering, especially with both team's terrific defensive records.
On the injury front, Sam Allardyce must decide whether to restore defender James Collins to the starting eleven after he missed last week's trip to Tyneside. Jack Collison and Ricardo Vaz Te are definitely missing through injury but Matthew Taylor could be back in contention.
Stoke have fitness concerns over Glenn Whelan who limped out of the Republic Of Ireland's friendly match with Greece in midweek and there are also doubts surrounding Charlie Adam and Jon Walters.
In what could turn out to be a battle of the giant strikers, Andy Carroll is preferred by the bookies to open the scoring as opposed to former Liverpool man Peter Crouch. Carroll can be backed at 11/2 to break the deadlock and 6/4 to notch anytime while Crouch is 8/1 and 11/4 in the same markets.
Peter Crouch is the focus of the William Hill Headline offer for the visitors where he is available at 7/1 to score anytime in a Stoke victory. Kevin Nolan is the man chosen to replicate his heroics of last week and score in another win for his West Ham team, he is enhanced to 3/1.
One man West Ham must keep their eye on if he plays is Michael Owen. The former Liverpool, Newcastle and Man Utd striker has found the net on 13 occasions in just 17 league appearances against the Hammers, including a hat-trick here for Newcastle. He can be backed 15 10/1 to open the scoring and 7/2 to score anytime.