Preview: Stoke City vs. West Ham United

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Stoke and West Ham at the Britannia Stadium as the Irons look to continue their impressive recent form.

The West Ham United bandwagon rolls on to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday as Stoke City host the Premier League's in-form side.

Sam Allardyce's men have won four of their last five games, and knocked off champions Manchester City last weekend to indicate that they are more than a flash in the pan.

The victory kept the Hammers in the top four of the table, and there is a growing belief around Upton Park that they could gatecrash what has been an exclusive European party this season.

Diafra Sakho continued his record of scoring in every West Ham game in which he has started by notching for the seventh match in a row, but he is a major doubt for their trip to the Potteries after injuring his shoulder against City.

His potential absence is cushioned by the fact that fellow summer signings Enner Valencia and Morgan Amalfitano are also chipping in with goals, but it is the capture of Alex Song which could prove to be Allardyce's shrewdest piece of business since his Bolton Wanderers days.

The Cameroonian midfielder has been instrumental in West Ham's success since joining on loan from Barcelona and has immediately formed an effective partnership with Mark Noble which will keep fit-again Cheikhou Kouyate on the bench.

Club-record signing Andy Carroll, who is yet to feature this season because of an ankle injury, is nearing a return, but this weekend perhaps comes too soon for him and therefore Carlton Cole is on standby to deputise for Sakho in attack.

With Mauro Zarate and Guy Demel still nursing knocks, Allardyce's only other selection decision seems to be whether to retain James Collins at centre-back, or recall James Tomkins now that the academy graduate has recovered from the injury that has cost him two matches.

Stoke too have the scalp of Man City under their belts this season, but their problem is proving to be consistency, with Mark Hughes's side having won three and lost three of their last six matches.

Their latest defeat came in the Capital One Cup fourth round to Southampton on Wednesday, as they came from two goals down to level the match before conceding late on after the dismissal of Peter Crouch.

Crouch joins Phil Bardsley in being suspended for the visit of the Irons, so Hughes will be forced into a reshuffle, with Geoff Cameron switching from midfield to right-back and Mame Biram Diouf playing centrally up top.

Victor Moses and Charlie Adam could be recalled at the expense of Marko Arnautovic and Bojan, while Steve Sidwell may be handed just a second Stoke start in midfield, with Glenn Whelan injured.

Defender Robert Huth and forward Peter Odemwingie, who scored in a 3-1 victory at the Britannia last term as the Potters completed a Premier League double over West Ham, remain out.

Recent form


West Ham: WWWLWD

Possible starting lineups

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Wilson, Shawcross, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Sidwell; Walters, Adam, Moses; Diouf

West Ham: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Noble, Amalfitano, Downing; Cole, Valencia

Sports Mole says: 0-1

Who will win Saturday's match between Stoke and West Ham at the Britannia?

West Ham
West Ham
Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring his, and their third goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the The Etihad Stadium in Manchester,
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