Five Talking Points - Stoke City



Remembrance Day, James Collins' return, Stoke City's renaissance and the London Stadium atmosphere are among today's topics for discussion...

Remembrance Day

Saturday’s game will see West Ham United mark Remembrance Day with commemorations ahead of kick-off.

Members of 7th Battalion The Rifles, the Army Reserve battalion based in West Ham, and the Royal British Legion will provide a guard of honour at London Stadium.

Joint-Chairman David Gold, Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and Stoke City Chairman Peter Coates will lay wreaths on the centre spot before the teams gather around the centre circle for a minute silence.

The travelling Hammers put on an exemplary display of respect at Everton last Sunday and the home fans can be expected to do likewise at London Stadium’s first Remembrance Day ceremony.

Return of the Ginge

Winston Reid’s suspension after picking up his fifth booking at Everton means the New Zealand defender will be unavailable for Saturday’s game, leaving the Hammers without their most-consistent centre-half.

However, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity, and James Collins will likely return to the starting XI for the first time since the 4-2 home defeat by Watford on 10 September.

The Wales international may be 33, but his strength, commitment and willingness to put his body on the line mean Slaven Bilic has little to fear from Ginge’s inclusion.



Stoked up

Stoke City are no longer the robust, direct side they were under long-serving manager Tony Pulis.

While the likes of Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan remain from that successful period in the club’s history, Pulis’s fellow Welshman Mark Hughes has instilled flair and creativity, while retaining some of the resilience his predecessor left behind.

The result has been a Stoke team which can both battle and play. While dangerous Austrian Marko Arnautovic will be suspended on Saturday, the likes of Swiss Xherdan Shaqiri (injury permitting), Wales playmaker Joe Allen, Spaniard Bojan Krkic and Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony mean the Potters have plenty of attacking options.

Inspirational atmosphere

While the headlines focused on the negative off-field incidents which marred West Ham’s EFL Cup victory over Chelsea, they largely ignored the fantastic atmosphere inside London Stadium for the opening 85 minutes of the tie.

The record-breaking crowd roared both teams on from the kick-off, with Slaven Bilic pointing to the noise generated by the home fans are inspiration for the Hammers’ dramatic 2-1 win.

Saturday’s game might not be a London derby under the lights, but the Claret and Blue Army still have a huge part to play in helping their team make it four wins out of five in all competitions.



International boost

While football is played on a pitch, it is also played in the mind, and the psychological boost a victory would give the Hammers going into a two-week international break should not be overlooked.

The Hammers lost at Manchester City in their final game before the September break, and drew at home with Middlesbrough before the October hiatus.

A defeat by Stoke and Bilic’s side will reach mid-November in, most likely, 17th place. Victory could carry them into the top half!

With the Premier League entering its relentless mid-season phase following this final international break of the year, and players jetting off to all corners of the world following Saturday’s match, a win would do wonders for West Ham.