Stoke City match preview

Barclays Premier League
Stoke City v West Ham United
Britannia Stadium
Saturday 17 October
Referee: Martin Atkinson

• A strong West Ham United squad will travel to face Tony Pulis' Stoke City in the club's sixth away match of the 2009/10 Barclays Premier League season on Saturday afternoon. West Ham have won five and drawn one of their last half-dozen trips to Stoke and have not lost there since 1 October 1983.

• Five of the club's six awaydays this campaign have been in the north-west of England, with the opening-day trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers the only exception.

• West Ham sit in 18th place in the fledgling Barclays Premier League standings with five points from their first seven matches. Saturday's hosts are just four points ahead but that is enough to keep them eight places in front, having played a game more. A win for the away side could see them climb as high as 13th place.

• None of the Hammers' home games so far have kicked-off at the customary 3pm time on Saturday. And with the Arsenal and Everton matches also being moved to Sunday due to television and UEFA Europa League commitments respectively, West Ham United's first 3pm Saturday kick-off of the season will not come until Burnley visit the Boleyn Ground on 28 November.

• West Ham have not picked up three points since their opening day victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but will take heart from their impressive win at the Britannia Stadium in May this year.

• The 1-0 win that day completed West Ham's fourth and final league 'double' of last season, having already won home and away against Fulham, Sunderland and Wigan. The Hammers beat the Potters 2-1 at the Boleyn Ground on 28 December.

• This is the 65th league meeting between the two sides. West Ham have won 26, Stoke have won 23 and there have been 15 draws.

Last meeting

• The last meeting between the two sides was on 2 May 2009 at the Britannia Stadium. Diego Tristan's spectacular free-kick 12 minutes before the break was enough to win the game for the visitors.

The teams that day were:

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Boa Morte (Collison 82), Noble (Lopez 87), Kovac, Stanislas, Di Michele (Sears 89), Tristan
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Spector, Payne. Hines
Goal: Tristan 33.

Stoke City: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 87), Faye, Shawcross, Pugh (Olofinjana 72), Lawrence, Whelan, Delap, Etherington, Beattie (Camara 72), Fuller
Subs not used: Simonsen, Cresswell, Kelly, Tonge

Last time out

Sunday 4 October 2009
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 2-2 Fulham
West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Parker (Behrami 71), Noble, Jimenez, Diamanti, Hines (Stanislas 71), Cole
Subs not used: Kurucz, Spector, Da Costa, Payne, Nouble
Goals: Cole 16, Stanislas 90.

Sunday 4 October 2009
Barclays Premier League
Everton 1-1 Stoke City
Stoke City: Sorensen, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Shawcross, Delap, Etherington, Whitehead, Diao (Whelan 77) , Fuller (Kitson 89), Beattie
Subs not used: Lawrence,Sanli,Wilkinson,Cort,Simonsen
Goal: Huth 50


• Saturday's referee is the 38-year-old Martin Atkinson.

• A referee since the age of 16, Atkinson was promoted to the Football League list of assistant referees in 1998. In 2000, Atkinson was promoted to the Select Group of assistant referees, allowing him to run the line in Premier League matches.

• Atkinson joined the National List of referees for the Football League at the start of the 2003/04 season before taking charge of his first Premier League fixture on 20 April 2005 when Manchester City entertained Birmingham City.

• Atkinson was the man in the middle at the 2006 FA Community Shield between Chelsea and Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. He also took charge of the 2008 FA Trophy final between Ebbsfleet United and Torquay United at Wembley Stadium.

• Atkinson refereed two West Ham games last season, the goalless draw with Portsmouth at the Boleyn Ground on 15 November and the 1-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on 11 April. This will be his first West Ham United match this season.

• Saturday's match will be Atkinson's seventh this season. He has an average of four cards per game so far.

Old boys

• West Ham first-team coach Kevin Keen made 201 league and cup appearances for Stoke between October 1994 and September 2000, scoring 12 goals. Keen, a former West Ham apprentice, made 279 league and cup appearances for the Hammers between March 1984 and July 1993, scoring 30 goals.

• Stoke winger Matthew Etherington made 195 appearances for West Ham between August 2003 and January 2009, scoring 18 goals. He joined the Potters on 8 January, having moved to the Boleyn Ground from Tottenham Hotspur five-and-a-half years previously.

• Among the other players who have represented both clubs are Clive Clarke, Bob Dixon, Sir Geoff Hurst, Lawrie Leslie, Nicky Morgan, Henri Camara and Frank Richardson.

Head to head

Last six meetings

2 May 2009 - Stoke City 0-1 West Ham United
28 December 2008 - West Ham United 2-1 Stoke City
19 April 2005 - Stoke City 0-1 West Ham United
19 October 2004 - West Ham United 2-0 Stoke City
24 April 2004 - Stoke City 0-2 West Ham United
9 December 2003 - West Ham United 0-1 Stoke City

Overall record v Stoke City (all competitions) W 31 D 18 L 27

West Ham United

Gianfranco Zola said: "It is important that the force perform for me all of the time no matter what position. They have to perform. They are focused and they know the position is not very good and is probably not the position that we deserve. We are determined to fight and to improve it straight away. Stoke is a difficult game with a difficult opposition but the focus is there."

• Carlton Cole is in line to make his 100th appearance in a West Ham United shirt if selected.

• Robert Green has played 95 consecutive Barclays Premier League games - more than any other player in the top-flight currently. All being well, he will reach his unbroken century when Everton visit the Boleyn Ground on Sunday 8 November.

• Five players - Junior Stanislas, Mark Noble, Matthew Upson, Alessandro Diamanti and Carlton Cole (four) have got on the league scoresheet for the Hammers so far this season.

• Cole, who has eleven goals in his last 19 league appearances dating back to last season, led the way in the scoring charts in the 2008/09 campaign with ten Premier League goals, one in the FA Cup and one in the League Cup.

• Cole celebrated his 26th birthday last Monday.

• Guille Franco, Jonathan Spector and Valon Behrami were all celebrating this week as Mexico, the United States and Switzerland all qualified for next summer's 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. Luis Boa Morte and Manuel Da Costa will hope Portugal progress from November's play-offs if they are to have a chance of realising their own dreams of making it to South Africa. England qualified last month.

• The Hammers finished last season in ninth in the Barclays Premier League with 51 points, a place and two points higher than they managed in the previous season.

• The Hammers have not lost on any of their last six visits to Stoke City. West Ham have won five and drawn one of those matches, a run that stretches back to a 4-2 First Division victory on 20 October 1984 - the pair's previous meeting at Stoke in the top-flight before last season's enounter.

• West Ham's last defeat at Stoke came on 1 October 1983, when the hosts won 3-1 at the Victoria Ground. That game was 26 years ago when Culture Club were No1 with 'Karma Chameleon' and Neil Kinnock was newly elected as leader of the Labour Party.

• West Ham's biggest away win at Stoke came during the 1957/58 Second Division title-winning season. A Vic Keeble brace and further strikes from Mike Grice and John Dick saw the Hammers secure a 4-1 victory at the Victoria Ground on 29 March 1958. West Ham's most emphatic top-flight victory at Stoke came on 20 October 1984, when Paul Allen, Paul Goddard, Tony Cottee and an own-goal from George Berry saw the Hammers triumph 4-2.

• West Ham are next in action eight days after Saturday's game when they play host to Arsenal at the Boleyn Ground. Kick-off is at 4.15pm.

Stoke City

• Stoke City manager Tony Pulis said: "It's a similar situation to the Tottenham scenario last season when they got off to a bad start. Like Spurs, West Ham have too many good players to stay in the position they are currently in and I am sure it won't be long before they are climbing the table."

• Stoke's biggest-ever home league victory over West Ham came in the shape of a 5-2 First Division victory at the Victoria Ground on 6 November 1982. Hammers' boss John Lyall received his manager of the month award before the game. The defeat was West Ham's heaviest defeat since losing 6-0 to Sunderland in 1967. Stoke scored through Sammy McIlroy (two), Brendan O'Callaghan, Peter Hampton and Mickey Thomas. West Ham's goals came through a Ray Stewart penalty and Geoff Pike's late consolation.

• Stoke have not beaten West Ham at home since 1 October 1983. That day, the Potters secured a 3-1 First Division victory at the Victoria Ground. Stoke's goals came from Mark Chamberlain, Dave McAughtrie and Mickey Thomas. The Hammers' goal came through a Ray Stewart penalty.

• Stoke have failed to score in three their eight league games this season. Since the opening day 2-0 home win over Burnley, the Potters have failed to score more than a single goal in any Premier League game.

• Danny Pugh will be 27 on Monday.

Team news

• Gianfranco Zola could welcome back two further key players to his squad for Saturday's game. Danny Gabbidon and Jack Collison both played in a practice game at the Boleyn Ground last week after recovering from calf and knee injuries respectively.

• If the duo do return, Zola will be handed a selection headache of the good kind with his defensive and midfield options already swelled by the return of Matthew Upson and Valon Behrami in the last game against Fulham.

• Radoslav Kovac will be pushing hard to play and may have a chance with Scott Parker suspended after his fifth caution of the season last time out against Fulham

• Fresh from two goals on his England Under-21 debut, Zavon Hines could keep his place in face of competition from Mexican international Guille Franco - who has trained all week at Chadwell Heath. Frank Nouble also played in three Under-19 international victories for England this past week.

• Terry Dixon made his first two appearances in a West Ham shirt in friendlies over the last fortnight and with another week of full training under his belt could feature for the reserves in their next game away at Chelsea on Monday 19 October.

• Kieron Dyer has also been working hard at the training ground after a hamstring problem.

• Luis Boa Morte (knee) is due back at the club next week to step up his rehab, but Dean Ashton (ankle) remains a long-term absentee with no date set for his return. Calum Davenport has begun to slowly build up his strength work and has been a welcome sight at Chadwell Heath in recent days.

• Stoke have been sweating on the fitness of Glenn Whelan after picking up a calf complaint on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, haviing scored in a 2-2 draw with Italy.

• Mamady Sidibie is not thought to be in contention until the end of the month at the earliest after a long-term knee ligament injury. The Potters have plenty of options in attack with Ricardo Fuller, James Beattie, Dave Kitson and Tuncay Sanli all fit.

• Salif Diao could play again after proving he was over his long-term back problem in the 1-1 draw against Everton a fortnight ago.

General information

• For ticket information click here. For directions to the Britannia Stadium click here.

• The weather forecast for Stoke this Saturday is for a sunny day, with temperatures expected to be around the 12C mark.