Tactically Speaking

The Official Website takes an in-depth look at how Stoke City could line up in Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture at the Britannia Stadium, as well as the important role Andy Carroll has to play.

West Ham United

The Hammers are currently on a good run of form, losing just one of their last six in England's top tier having taken 13 points from those games. Stoke in contrast have secured just one win in their last five and Sam Allardyce's side will be confident of adding to their woes when they travel to the Britannia on Saturday.

West Ham are currently tenth in the Barclays Premier League table while their opponents Stoke are twelfth. Both teams are on the same number of points although the Hammers have played a game more.

Fortune has favoured West Ham in recent visits to Stoke, with the east London side winning three of their previous six matches at the Britannia in all competitions. This includes a 1-0 win over their upcoming opponents in the Premier League last March. Andy Carroll impressed that day - as his WhoScored.com rating of 7.3 suggests - and the striker is expected to play a crucial role for the Hammers this weekend.

Mark Hughes' side are renowned for their physical approach when it comes to defending, so Carroll will need to be on top of his game if he's to excel as the primary offensive outlet for West Ham.

Stoke have won the highest percentage of aerial duels this season in the Premier League.

Perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to knock the ball on for teammates, highlighted in his statistically calculated style of play of 'likes to do flick ons'. This facet of his game was best displayed in the 2-0 win over Swansea, where Carroll played a huge part in both of Kevin Nolan's goals.

The duo have developed an impressive understanding with one another and should both be firing on all cylinders this weekend, they have the ability to put the Stoke backline to the sword. Defensively, Carroll's aerial ability will assist the back four, with the striker having gained a strength of 'defensive contribution'.

From set-pieces especially, Carroll will help the defence clear their ranks as West Ham look to repeat last season's win at the Britannia. Heading into the encounter on the back of two weeks' rest, England international Carroll is expected to play a starring role in the fixture. With Carroll in the side West Ham's win ratio is 40%, without it is 26.1% so the West Ham fans will be hoping he plays at the weekend.

*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

Stoke City

Possible starting XI

Begovic

Cameron  Shawcross  Wilson  Pieters

Whelan  N'Zonzi

Odemwingie  Ireland  Arnautovic

Crouch

Perhaps the most important piece of team news is about the two players Stoke City will definitely be without this weekend, rather than those who Mark Hughes does pick to face West Ham United.

Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam has been influential for the Potters this term, scoring six goals and chalking up three assists. Of Stoke's 28 Barclays Premier League goals, Adam has been directly involved in nine of them and indirectly involved in many more.

On Saturday, Adam will be unavailable due to a ban imposed for an alleged stamp on Oliver Giroud during Stoke's 1-0 win over Arsenal in their last home game on 1 March.

In his absence, Stoke drew 1-1 at Norwich City last weekend to draw level on 31 points with the Hammers, albeit from 29 games played to West Ham's 28.

That game also saw Irish attacker Jonathan Walters score his fourth goal of the season and then get sent-off, also ruling him out of Saturday's game through suspension.

Style-wise, much was written about how Stoke would adopt a more fluent passing style this season under new manager Hughes, but that has only been the case to a point.

As they were under predecessor Tony Pulis, Stoke are still an aggressive team who like to get the ball wide and put crosses into the box for Peter Crouch to feed off. However, they do definitely keep the ball better under Hughes.

Last season, Stoke enjoyed 43.3 per cent of possession and completed 70.2 per cent of their passes. This term, those figures have risen to 45 per cent and 76 per cent respectively.

One statistic that has not changed is that which sees Stoke bottom of the table when it comes to shots on goal, with Potters players unleashing just ten efforts per game on average.

Under Hughes, Stoke have employed a 4-2-3-1 formation in more than 75 per cent of their league matches - as opposed to the 4-5-1 favoured under Pulis last term.

The former Manchester United and Chelsea forward has benefitted from a settled starting XI for much of the season, with nine of his players having started 20 or more of Stoke's 29 league matches - including all four defenders and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Begovic is a fine goalkeeper - tall, strong, dominant, a superb distributor of the ball and blessed with good reflexes.

In front of him, the full-backs will be United States international Geoff Cameron and Dutchman Erik Pieters. Right-sided Cameron is a modern full-back - a strong defender who can get forward to good effect - while left-back Pieters is more defensive-minded and better in the air than his American colleague.

In the absence of the injured Robert Huth, the ever-present Ryan Shawcross and Irishman Marc Wilson will play at centre-back.

Shawcross is tall, strong and uncompromising in the air and on the ground, while Wilson is a tenacious tackler who is happy to bring the ball forward out of defence.

The two defensive midfielders will be Steven N'Zonzi and Glenn Whelan. N'Zonzi, who was first brought to English football by Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers, has good positional sense, tackles hard and fair and keeps it simple in possession. Irishman Whelan is more creative and will likely take Stoke's set pieces in Adam's absence.

The three attacking midfielders are all enigmatic talents.

On the right, Peter Odemwingie likes to run with the ball and will not be afraid to let fly when the opportunity arises. For a winger, he also does not mind getting stuck in.

The left winger will be Austrian Marko Arnautovic. He also likes to cut inside from his flank and shoot, while he is also tall and decent in aerial battles.

A third winger, Moroccan Liverpool loanee Oussama Assaidi, is struggling with a knee injury, and former West Ham wideman Matty Etherington is an option.

Adam's place will go to Stephen Ireland, who can create chances with his passing when he is on his game.

Up front, former England striker Crouch continues to lead the line. Unsurprisingly for one so tall, Crouch excels in aerial battles, holding the ball up and bringing his team-mates into the play.

With Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome out on loan, Stoke's only other centre forward option is Manchester City loanee John Guidetti, who has yet to make a start for the club.