Hammers extend unbeaten run
Having not recorded a goalless draw all season until last weekend’s stalemate with Everton, West Ham United, who travelled to Stoke City, were held 0-0 for the second time in as many matches on Saturday.
The Hammers' inability to find the back of the net was not for the want of trying against the Potters though, as the superb Jack Butland kept Slaven Bilic’s side at bay on a number of occasions.
And an open first half began with the visitors testing the Englishman, as Manuel Lanzini struck straight at the stopper from 20 yards just a minute into the contest.
The hosts came roaring back, and almost took the lead when Saido Berahino – yet to score for the Potters – had time to shoot in the box, but a heroic block from Winston Reid denied him.
And though the half was even throughout, it was the Hammers who created the better chances in front of goal from then on.
Jose Fonte’s header was forced over by ex-Hammer Glen Johnson and Jonathan Calleri skied from a good position inside the penalty area.
Half an hour in, there was so nearly the dream opener for Andre Ayew, whose spectacular scissor-kick, which was ultimately kept out thanks to a smart Butland save, would have rivalled the Premier League’s best strikes this campaign.
At the other end, Fonte snuffed out a promising Stoke attack with a strong last-ditch challenge but again it was Slaven Bilic’s side who came closest to taking the lead when, two minutes from the end of the first half, Calleri’s rabona attempt was blocked from close range.
Buoyed by their efforts in the opening period, West Ham began the second half at blistering pace as Cheikhou Kouyate smashed across goal and narrowly wide two minutes in.
Goalkeeper Adrian was properly tested for the first time eight minutes later, tipping Xherdan Shaqiri’s powerful effort over the crossbar, before he was again made to work when Joe Allen’s low drive came at him quickly.
But it was a minute later the Spaniard really excelled, as he dived low to his right to keep out Berahino’s goalbound effort.
With 64 minutes on the clock, Stoke incredibly held the Hammers again who twice thought they had finally broken the hosts’ stern defence.
Kouyate first slipped in Ayew, whose fierce drive was parried out by Butland, and then from Calleri’s volley which cannoned into the ground, Lanzini’s header was kicked away by the keeper.
Soon after, Adrian, once again, was on hand to deny Arnautovic as Shaqiri sprayed a superb ball into the box, though the Swiss midfielder soon became villain at the bet365 Stadium as he went tumbling under little, if any, contact in the box.
A number of promising counter attacks came and went in the final minutes, and substitute Peter Crouch wasted a good chance when he headed over, but the clash remained goalless and West Ham extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Muniesa, Allen (Crouch 69), Whelan (Adam 79), Cameron, Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Berahino.
Subs not used: Grant, Bardsley, Pieters, Diouf, Ramadan.
Bookings: Muniesa 16
West Ham United: Adrian, Fernandes, Fonte, Reid, Collins, Masuaku (Cresswell 46), Nordtveit, Kouyate, Lanzini, Ayew (Noble 67), Calleri (Snodgrass 79).
Subs not used: Randolph, Feghouli, Byram, Fletcher.