Stoke City fans will feel aggrieved their last gasp victory against Aston Villa isn’t the main talking point about this game, but the turmoil at West Ham United is too noticeable.
No points after four games, a chairman who admits he’s struggling with their debt and they go into the game manager-less because of religious reasons. The east London team are in a pickle and desperately need a win to get their season back on track.
Tony Pulis’ men have their tails up. A fantastic second half performance against Villa gave them their first Premier League points. They will be looking for more of the same.
Kenwyne Jones scored his first goal for the club on Monday night and Pulis’ new transfers all combined to give the Potters and attacking edge they sometimes have lacked.
Marc Wilson was solid and positive in central midfield and Jermaine Pennant offered a wide threat when he came on. He won the foul that led to Robert Huth’s winner.
Nothing has gone right for the Hammers this season. They have no points and are shipping goals. Scott Parker is again proving their most consistent player, but it is a hollow compliment for the midfielder.
They have to be resolute at the back after a number of defensive errors have cost them dear, but they urgently need to start scoring, with England man Carlton Cole in the spotlight with Zavon Hines injured and Alessandro Diamanti having left the club in the summer.
Stoke City have no major injury worries ahead of the game, with Mamady Sidibe their only long term absentee. Sorensen is likely to continue in goal and Tony Pulis may play an unchanged team.
Probable starting XI: Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Faye, Collins; Delap, Wilson, Whitehead, Etherington; Walters, Jones
The most significant absence for West Ham is in their coaching staff. Avram Grant is observing Yom Kippur and will not be in the dugout to face off against Stoke.
Tal Ben-Haim will miss the match for the same reason and is likely to be replaced by Danny Gabbidon.
Zavon Hines and Jack Collison are prolonged absentees. Benni McCarthy was fined by the club recently for being overweight and he will miss consequently the game.
Probable starting XI: Green; Jacobsen, Upson, Gabbidon, Ilunga; Faubert, Parker, Noble, Boa Morte; Cole, Obinna