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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
15 March 2014
• Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee: C. Pawson
• Attendance: 27015
P. Odemwingie 32', 79'
M. Arnautović 69'
West Ham United
A. Carroll 5'
FULL-TIME: Stoke City 3-1 West Ham United. The Hammers will feel hard done to to come away with nothing here but Stoke's ruthless second-half finishing was the difference. Andy Carroll handed the visitors an early lead but the hosts came back through a Peter Odemwingie brace and Marko Arnautovic's neat finish to move above their opponents and into the top half of the table.
90' + 2'
West Ham are still trying valiantly but Stoke's defending has been obdurate this afternoon and they are closing in on a crucial win in their battle against the drop.
The pace of the game is beginning to peter out but N'Zonzi has other ideas, firing a low effort which Adrian fumbles before claiming at the second attempt.
CLOSE: Another Stoke counter leads to Crouch slipping in the unmarked Arnautovic, but the Austrian goes to place into the far corner and gets it slightly wrong, instead blazing over the crossbar.
Yellow CardMark Noble
Arnautovic is enjoying himself all of a sudden, showing some lovely tricks and flicks which aggravates Noble, who enters referee Pawson's notebook for a lunge on the Stoke man.
Carroll's game is up as he jogs across to the touchline to be replaced by Pablo Armero, the loan signing from Napoli in January, who makes his debut.
Adrian is forced into a double save to deny Arnautovic first with a low save before getting down to his left once again to stifle Crouch's stinging effort which was destined for the far post.
GOAL! Stoke City 3-1 West Ham United. That should seal the three points for the hosts as they launch a breathtaking counter led by Ireland and he slips in Odemwingie, who rifles home at the near post past a stunned Adrian.
Yellow CardGlenn Whelan
Another shout for a West Ham penalty as Demel's delivery from the right is batted away by Muniesa. Neither of the latter two looked like realistic penalty shouts but the first certainly did.
Now Nolan wants a penalty, claiming his header towards Wilson had hit the arm of the Stoke City defender. Carlton Cole comes on to replace Nocerino in the meantime.
Carroll is apoplectic in the Stoke area as his claims for handball fall on deaf ears. The ball is hurled into the box and Muniesa is up above everyone but appears to lead with his arm. The visitors look slightly hard done by here.
Diame cuts inside from the left but Odemwingie, who has been superb this afternoon, gets across well to block the shot and thwart the Hammers once more.
West Ham immediately send the ball upfield but find a Stoke City wall in the way in their attempts to find an equaliser, a pattern sure to repeat itself in these final 20 minutes.
GOAL! Stoke City 2-1 West Ham United. The Potters, who hardly deserve it, somehow seize the lead over the Hammers thanks to Arnautovic in a goal which owed as much to persistence as anything else. The ball ricocheted back into his path once he had squeezed through a challenge and the Austrian duly slipped the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Carroll looks to pick the ball up in a deeper position this time and earns a free-kick for his endeavours after Cameron hauls him down.
Carroll searches for Cole who, in turn, cuts back to McCartney but the full-back's ball in is long and goes out of play.
OFFSIDE: Nolan thinks he has the opener after Begovic's woeful error leaves the goal unguarded but, as the ball is played back into the area, the Hammers midfielder is stood in an offside position and the flag is duly raised. Allardyce shuffles his pack for the first time, introducing Joe Cole.
CHANCE: Now it's Carroll's turn to go close and the game is opening up once more here. Nolan slips him in on the right-hand side of the 18-yard box but his finish is tame and Begovic does brilliantly to get across and parry.
CHANCE: Arnautovic plays Crouch in with a clever pass but the striker is unable to apply a finishing touch to a well-worked move.
Ireland is in hard on Noble but there's no card for the Stoke midfielder, with the Potters continuing to defend well from yet another series of long balls into their area.
It's been a lethargic showing from both sides so far in this second period, with successive moves for both sides breaking down due to offside decisions.
Diame does brilliantly to get to the byline and clip a teasing ball to the back post where Kevin Nolan is to meet it, but he cannot direct his header on target.
Arnautovic goes close to releasing Muniesa after a barnstorming run from Odemwingie but Winston Reid gets there first to clear away.
McCartney and Cameron are down after a clash of heads and play is temporarily brought to a halt by referee Craig Pawson.
SECOND HALF: We are back underway here, with Stoke getting the ball rolling once more.
HALF-TIME: Stoke City 1-1 West Ham United. The two sides are separated only by goal difference in terms of league position and it is proving equally as close here. The two giant frontmen have caused both defences havoc and it was Carroll who nodded the Hammers in front after just four minutes but Stoke rallied and deservedly levelled when Crouch flicked towards goal and Odemwingie prodded the ball over the line. All square at the interval here.
45' + 1'
CHANCE: A lovely one-touch move leads to Odemwingie feeding Ireland who is played onside by Guy Demel on the far side. The midfielder strides through on goal from a wide-right position but his effort is weak and straight at Adrian, who parries.
Carroll works some space just outside the area but his shot is too powerful and does not worry Begovic as it flies high over the crossbar.
Adrian goes long towards Carroll but the ball goes all the way through to Begovic before the Stoke shot-stopper tries to emulate his goal against Southampton from earlier this season by following suit and punting right down to the other end of the pitch.
Space opens up 25 yards out for N'Zonzi, who advances before unleashing a strike on goal, but it rolls harmlessly wide of Adrian's upright.
Crouch is back in his own box once again to thwart West Ham, getting a head to Antonio Nocerino's inswinging centre after Mohamed Diame had been chopped down by Arnautovic.
Stoke are beginning to enjoy a good spell of possession and Arnautovic does superbly to play Muniesa in behind Downing but, to the winger's credit, he sticks to his task and tackles the Stoke full-back.
It does appear as if Odemwingie got the last touch on the ball from the corner and it will be his goal, rather than Crouch's.
GOAL! Stoke are level, I'm not sure how it has gone in and who will claim it yet but Crouch appears to be the man doing so. The big frontman manages to control a corner and head towards goal. The initial effort is clawed out by Adrian but he can do little to prevent the follow-up as Odemwingie diverts Crouch's second bite of the cherry with his shoulder into the roof of the net.
Stoke are beginning to rally, with Arnautovic winning a free-kick of his own which is nodded down by Crouch towards Cameron, but West Ham can clear.
West Ham win a free-kick in a central area as Arnautovic stupidly trips Noble when the midfielder had nowhere to turn on the ball. Unnecessary from the Austrian international.
Stoke starting to enjoy more of the ball now and Marko Arnautovic, N'Zonzi and Whelan are all involved in a neat move that eventually sees James Tomkins launch the ball well clear of danger.
Crouch is back doing his defensive duties once more to help his side out but Glen Whelan is wasteful in possession and the Hammers can regain the ball in their half once again.
Shawcross looks shaky at the back for Stoke and is particularly struggling with Carroll's exemplary hold-up play. The Hammers striker invites a challenge from the Potters skipper, who hacks him down to concede a free-kick.
Only Norwich City and Liverpool have beaten Stoke at the Britannia this season but they look so susceptible to every ball West Ham pump towards their goal here.
Peter Odemwingie is almost punished for a slack touch in his own area which looked like it may fall nicely for Kevin Nolan, but Shawcross was on hand to hack the ball clear.
Stoke look wary as Noble stands over a free-kick but this time his delivery is far too close to Begovic. The Bosnian sends his side hurtling down the other end but Noble does well to track back before being scythed down by Ireland.
And Pieters wlll have to be replaced, with Marc Muniesa coming on in the Dutchman's place. The replacement is almost immediately in on the act but his cross is poor and fails to beat the first man.
Carroll is down but Hammers fans needn't fear as the towering frontman is merely changing his socks on the near touchline as we have a break in play so Erik Pieters can be treated.
Carroll is unsettling Shawcross and Wilson at the back for Stoke every time the Hammers launch the ball forward but the visitors need to beware of the counter attack, something Stoke almost display in the most punishing of fashions when Steven N'Zonzi's strike is deflected away.
Carroll forces a corner by controlling Reid's long pass, swiveling and firing off an effort which is deflected wide by a lunging Shawcross. From the corner, Crouch does well to clear.
CLOSE: And now Stoke City come forward in a breathless start through Stephen Ireland, but his goal-bound strike is turned round the post by an alert Adrian in the West Ham goal.
GOAL! Andy Carroll gives West Ham the lead with a brilliant header from Mark Noble's beautifully-flighted free-kick into the area which Asmir Begovic came for and never got near, but Carroll wasn't complaining as he nodded into the unguarded goal.
The Hammers are the first to venture forward as Stewart Downing sprints away on the left flank, but Marc Wilson is across to cover.
KICK-OFF: We are underway here in the Potteries as the away side get the ball rolling.
You sense a win for either side here this afternoon could be enough to push them over the safety line given the travails of other sides further down the division. We are just moments away from kick-off so stay tuned for all the latest from the Britannia Stadium.
That excellent run of form arrived off the back of one win in 10 Premier League games, with Allardyce able to mastermind a miraculous recovery which sees his side sit just inside the top half on goal difference.
Likewise for today's visitors, February felt like a pivotal month as they regained form to cruise to four successive wins, a feat which saw Allardyce awarded the Manager of the Month as his side moved clear of the drop zone.
Since the turn of February, however, things have looked up for Mark Hughes' side, who have lost just once in six games, a narrow defeat at Manchester City, and secured morale-boosting wins against both Manchester United and Arsenal.
It was only a few weeks ago that both were being billed as potential favourites for the drop, particularly given the Potters' winless January, which took in three defeats and a draw with Everton.
It is interesting to note that, in the mini-league to avoid relegation between the teams at the bottom of the Premier League, Stoke and West Ham come out on top, with the Hammers top by virtue of goal difference. They have both proven flat-track bullies this season but neither manager will care one iota if it means they stay up.
West Ham lost against Everton two weeks ago, so Sam Allardyce makes four changes to his starting XI. Andy Carroll replaces Carlton Cole up front in his first start since serving a three match suspension for a red card against Swansea. Also back in the starting lineup are Winston Reid, Antonio Nocerino and Mohamed Diame, with James Collins, Matt Jarvis and Matthew Taylor making way.
Stoke failed in their attempt to appeal Jonathan Walters' red card during their draw against Norwich last time out. Therefore with the Republic of Ireland forward suspended, Stephen Ireland returns to the home side's XI, with Peter Crouch tasked with doing the heavy lifting alone up front.
WEST HAM SUBS: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, Armero, Taylor, Collins, C.Cole, J.Cole.
WEST HAM (4-4-1-1): Adrian; Demel, Reid, Tomkins, McCartney; Nolan, Noble, Diame, Downing; Nocerino; Carroll.
STOKE SUBS: Sorensen, Muniesa, Palacios, Guidetti, Etherington, Wilkinson, Shotton.
STOKE (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Odemwingie, Nzonzi, Ireland, Whelan, Arnautovic; Crouch.
First, our lineups for today's clash.
WEST HAM SUBS: Jarvis, Armero, Taylor, Collins, Jaaskelainen, C.Cole, J.Cole.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Premier League clash between Stoke and West Ham at the Britannia Stadium. With both sides level on 31 points, this is sure to be a close one.
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