West Ham v Stoke preview

West Ham are desperate for a win thius Saturday and take on a Stoke City side with nothing to play for

The opposition

Another solid season has finally proved to the remaining doubters that Stoke City are good enough for the Premier League.

They have few outstanding players, but former West Ham winger Matthew Etherington has had a productive season and is the club's joint top-scorer with Ricardo Fuller on six strikes.

Built on a solid centre-back pairing of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, the Staffordshire side will have the physical edge over West Ham, while the creativity of Sanli Tuncay must also be watched and of course, Rory Delap's long throws will be a cause for concern for the hosts.

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James Beattie will be the only missing Potteries player with a knee injury, in what is surely a must-win game for West Ham.

The manager

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In charge of over 300 games at Stoke City alone, Tony Pulis is an experienced manager who has done a superb job for the club.

It is the second season the Welshman has kept City in the top tier of English football and with his limited budget, that achievement is no small feat.

Pulis has built a physically strong squad at the Britannia and his direct style of play suits the team he has assembled.

Their fitness and power are also key weapons and his handling of the Shawcross, Aaron Ramsey affair was praised after Arsene Wenger complained about his side's style of play.

Form guide

West Ham home: LDWWL.

Stoke City away: DDWLD.

West Ham overall: WLLLL.

Stoke City overall: LLDDL.

Recent meetings

West Ham have an excellent recent record against Stoke City, winning five of the last seven games.

Stoke were too strong earlier in the campaign winning 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium, with two goals from James Beattie cancelling out a Matthew Upson strike.

Last season a Diego Tristan goal won the game in the north west for West Ham, while a Tristan goal two minutes from time won the game at Upton Park, after Carlton Cole had drawn the Hammers level. Abdoulaye Faye had given his side a fourth-minute lead.

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