Level on 42 points, West Ham United and Stoke City meet at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday and will vie to end the afternoon ninth in the Premier League table.
The home side did not enjoy the best of days last time out as they slumped to a defeat at bottom club Leicester City, a result and performance which rather sums up their second half of the season. Despite the return of Winston Reid to the starting XI, the Foxes were able to carve out numerous chances and deserved their win.
One of the positives was yet another fine individual display from Cheikhou Kouyate, which he capped by scoring a first half equaliser. Although he is more defensively minded, the former Anderlecht star has the look of a long-term successor to Kevin Nolan, who has been distinctly average this season in comparison.
Stoke have lost their last three games, which have put their position in the top half under a little threat. However, they have not been playing that badly and emerged with considerable credit from their game at leaders Chelsea, where only a regrettable – and rare – mistake from goalkeeper Asmir Begovic decided the game.
That of course came after what was quite possibly the goal of the season from Charle Adam, who may be afforded a little extra attention here. He will certainly look to exploit the Hammers’ recent vulnerabilities from set-pieces, as well as set up Mame Biram Diouf, who will have the home defence constantly occupied.
For West Ham, James Collins is out, and this game may come too soon for striker Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll and James Tomkins remain absent.
The visitors are close to returning to full strength and have Victor Moses back available. Bojan Krkic and Peter Odemwingie are the only players out through injury.
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