View on the Visitors - Stoke City

Stoke Sentinel’s Stoke City reporter Peter Smith lifts the lid on Saturday's visitors. 

What have you made of Stoke’s recent form?

“It’s been a bit up and down really. While they’ve lost the last three games they haven’t played that badly. They were unlucky against Crystal Palace, a few decisions went against them and they played very well against Chelsea.”

Mark Hughes has recently a new contract at the club, do you think that was a good move?

“Yes, I think it’s been a long time coming as the negotiations started in January. I think he has done a very good job, they’re playing good, attacking football and getting results at the same time. The news has gone done really well with the fans. There’s a sense he is just at the start of his journey with Stoke.”

Which players have stood out this season?

“Every player who started the season well then got injured. Steven Nzonzi has been the key man in the middle. I think he is very likely to win the Player of the Season award, he’s played every game and has done well throughout the season.

“Jonathan Walters has also done well recently. He fell down the pecking order at the start of the season but he has won his place back. His attitude and work rate is superb and you definitely notice the impact when he doesn’t play.”

It was a 2-2 draw in this fixture at the Britannia, what do you remember from that game?

“I remember Stoke played well that day. Even at 2-0 they were still attacking which left them vulnerable and West Ham capitalised. After the game Mark Hughes was furious that his team had let a 2-0 lead slip when they were on top and probably should have won the match.”  

What have you made on West Ham more generally this season?

“They certainly started with a bang and I’ve been very impressed with Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia up top. It’s sort of fizzled out in recent weeks but overall I think they’ve done well.”

What is your prediction for Saturday's score?

“I’d take a draw as Upton Park is always a tough place to come to. Both teams can score goals, so I’ll say 2-2 again.”

Where do you think Stoke will finish come the end of the season?

“I think they’ll finish eighth, top of this mini league with Swansea in tenth and West Ham in ninth. Eighth would represent a very good season.”