Betway Insider’s View of the Opposition: Stoke City
What a difference a week makes.
While West Ham remain in the relegation zone, the four points taken from Chelsea and Arsenal in the last seven days has transformed the mood inside the London Stadium.
And having improved results at home, the visit to Stoke City on Saturday now provides the resurgent Hammers with the perfect opportunity to claim what would be their first points on the road since October.
The Potters come into the game in poor form. They have suffered four defeats in their previous five matches, including back-to-back losses against Tottenham and Burnley respectively.
Mark Hughes’ side have conceded 16 goals in their last seven matches and are currently in possession of the worst defensive record in the Premier League.
That is encouraging for David Moyes, whose selection of Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic through the middle has given his side power and pace in attack.
Arnautovic, of course, was signed from Stoke last summer, and his previous two displays have revealed the talent that convinced the club to make him their record signing.
The 28-year-old Austrian scored a brilliant winner against Chelsea, and was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out for offside against Arsenal.
A player who revels in the big occasion, it would be no surprise whatsoever if Arnautovic finds the net against his former club.
It is likely that West Ham will have to find the net in order to take anything from the match.
Despite their indifferent form, Stoke are actually regular scorers at home, with Chelsea and Liverpool the only sides to deny them on their own patch.
It has been well-documented that the West Ham players look especially fit and strong under Moyes – attributes that could prove to be crucial at Stoke.
The Potters appear prone to conceding goals the longer matches go on.
They shipped four second-half goals at Spurs last weekend,conceded twice late on to Liverpool last month and have also conceded galling last-minute winners to Crystal Palace andBurnley in recent weeks.
West Ham are yet to net in the second half under Moyes, although Javier Hernandez did come desperately close to snatching a late, late winner against the Gunners last time out.
Don’t bet against them doing exactly that on Saturday.
West Ham double chance and BTTS – 9/5
Marko Arnautovic anytime goalscorer – 11/4
West Ham to win the second half – 11/4