The bottom half of the Premier League can be summed up perfectly with this clash. Mark Hughes and Sam Allardyce have found themselves under immense amounts of pressure this year, with their own supporters completely turning against them on more than one occasion. Now, both are completely stable, with both clubs approaching this game sat on the exact same number of points in a comfortable mid-table position.
Of course, with six points separating both from the bottom three, relegation will still be an issue in the back of their minds. In the case of Stoke, Hughes will be hoping for more of the same from his squad following some sterling form since the start of February. They’ve lost just one of their last six games and with that coming in the form of a narrow defeat to Manchester City, they can be somewhat excused. They’ve beaten the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal and having also recorded three draws, confidence at the Britannia Stadium will be high. On the subject of their home form, they’ve now lost just one of their last seven on their own turf.
West Ham’s recent form can be highlighted by the fact that Sam Allardyce has just picked up the Manager of the Month gong for February. This is quite an alarming transformation as well, with the radio phone-ins absolutely clogged up with Hammers fans wanting their manager to be removed just several months ago. Instead, they initiated a clean sweep through February and contributed to a five game unbeaten run. However, the wheels came off in their last outing following a 1-0 loss to Everton, so it now remains to be seen just how they will fare in the remainder of March.
Even though Stoke will be buoyed following recent form, their chances ahead of this match have been blighted following some unfavourable team news. Mark Hughes has known to prepare to be without Jonathan Walters and Charlie Adam for the whole week, with the duo missing out due to suspension. However, Robert Huth has just been ruled out for the rest of the campaign which will have been a massive shock, while a late decision will be made on Oussama Assaidi who is struggling with a knee complaint. It’s a completely contrasting story for the visitors, with West Ham having absolutely no fresh concerns. The Hammers have just two absentees, with Marco Borriello and Joey O’Brien still struggling with the issues that have hindered them over recent weeks.
As for a prediction, we get the feeling that this will be a hard-fought draw. Both clubs are renowned for their combative play and following their recent results, our tip is going to be a 1-1 scoreline at the Britannia Stadium.