In the 34th round of matches of the 2017/2018 Premier League season, David Moyes’ West Ham United play host to fellow relegation strugglers Stoke City under Paul Lambert in what is being dubbed one of the biggest matches of both team’s seasons and subsequent bids for Top-Flight survival.
The Hammers go into the clash off the back of consecutive positive results in the league, a crucial home victory over Southampton and impressive away draw with Chelsea, while the Potters were beaten by Tottenham Hotspur at the bet365 Stadium last time out, the hosts are the overwhelming favourites for this one.
The bottom six affair is scheduled to take place this evening (Monday 16 April 2018), with a kick-off time of 8 PM BST and live television coverage in the United Kingdom being provided by Sky Sports, on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.
Live radio commentary in the UK will be broadcast by BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio London, but if you don’t have access to a radio or TV device tonight, never fear, you can stay with us right here on MooreThanJustAClub to follow the match with our Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from the encounter, live from the London Stadium Press Box from 6 PM BST.
The visit of Lambert’s Potters will take place at the home club’s London Stadium, with a capacity of 57,000 and the option to go high into the 70,000s it is one of the most spectacular and newest arenas in English Football.
Originally opening in 2012 for the London Olympics, the ground has now been a Premier League stadium for nearly two years, and as well as football hosted rugby, athletics and concerts among other events, but hasn’t always been popular with supporters who were reluctant to leave the Irons’ former home of the Boleyn Ground.
Their discontent was catalysed early in this season when the first-team stars, then under Slaven Bilic, were forced to play the first four games of the season away from home due to Stratford hosting the World Athletics Championships and World Para Athletics Championships.
But, the stadium is slowly starting to feel more like home for the Claret & Blue Army, and today will be only the second time that the team from Staffordshire have visited Stratford, drawing 1-1 in their only previous outing there in November 2016, a late Bojan equaliser cancelling out a Glenn Whelan own-goal in the second period.
Home manager Moyes was given a major injury boost ahead of the fixture, as revealed in his pre-Stoke City press conference at Rush Green on Friday afternoon with the trio of defender James Collins, midfielder Manuel Lanzini and striker Andy Carroll returning to fitness.
All three are expected to make the matchday squad, with the former having been out since January and the latter two since the last International break, in-form Marko Arnautovic will be hoping to get one over his former club once again for the hosts.
Whereas, visiting boss Lambert has far fewer injury worries than his counterpart at this stage of the season and as a result, the only first-team regular missing from the squad through a knock will be striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Back-up goalkeeper Lee Grant is expected to miss a further match with a wrist injury, although the visitors are plagued by two suspensions, Charlie Adam serving the final match of his red card ban, and Ibrahim Afellay out having been told to stay away from the club’s training ground until the end of the season amid disciplinary issues.
The first-teams of West Ham United and Stoke City have met before a hefty 87 times in a fixture that has been being played since all the way back in the year of 1911.
The overall record makes for pleasant reading for any member of the Claret & Blue Army as their side have 37 wins to their name, but the Staffordshire outfit are just behind them with 34, the points and the spoils have been shared on 26 occasions.
More recently, however, the Potters have enjoyed the slight edge in this matchup, triumphing in three of the last ten meetings of the two, while the Hammers have only managed two wins in that time and there have been as many as five stalemates.
Last time out, exactly four months ago to the day on 16 December 2017 at the bet365 Stadium, Moyes was able to get his first away victory in charge of the Irons against then Mark Hughes’ Stoke thanks to a Mark Noble penalty, Arnautovic volley against his ex-club and a third from recently departed substitute Diafra Sakho.
Stoke City Football Club was founded in 1863 as Stoke Ramblers FC, changing its name to Stoke in 1878 and then Stoke City in 1925 to match Stoke-On-Trent’s new City status, they are the oldest team in the Premier League at present.
Despite their rich history, however, they are far from being one of the most successful in the league in terms of silverware, lofting just one major English honour in their existence, the 1972 League Cup, where they defeated Chelsea in the final, the club also finished second in 1964.
Aside from reaching the final of the 2011 FA Cup and losing to Manchester City, the North West Midlands-based team’s biggest achievement of modern times surely stands as gaining promotion to the Top-Flight for the first time in the PL era in the 2007/2008 season.
The Potters have managed to impressively remain in the top tier of English football since, but their status is under threat this campaign under Lambert following the sacking of Hughes, City are six points from safety with five matches left to play in 19th, a full four places and seven points behind their Monday night opponents.
Who Is Officiating?
Young Select Group referee Michael Oliver will be the man in the middle in Stratford this evening fresh from UEFA Champions League duty last week, assisting him will be the duo of Stuart Burt and Daniel Cook, while fellow Premier League referee Craig Pawson will act as the Fourth Official.
So, now that the London Stadium scene has been well and truly set for a tantalising night of high-pressure football under the lights, can Moyes’ Hammers edge ever closer to that 40-point mark with a pivotal second home victory on the spin?
Or, will Lambert’s Potters show up in East London to spoil the party and give their heavily-hit hopes of avoiding the drop to the Sky Bet Championship a much-needed boost with a shock three points? Think you know? Be sure to find us on Twitter @MooreThanAClub to send us your score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.