Stoke travel to London and a tricky tie at Upton Park. The Hammers were thumped 3-1 by Wolves in midweek and the recriminations are now well underway in anticipation of a drop into the relegation zone which could make it doubly difficult for the Potters as Hammers’ boss, Zola needs a win to save his job and avoid a further possible drop to the Championship. Stoke are without a win in four matches as we struggle to reach the magical 40 points, so a win for us will as good as cement our Premier League status for next season.
Zola knows that this is one he has to win: ‘It is a very important game, we have to win. Everybody at the club is focused on winning the game. We have to win the game as a team. It is the most important thing. Honestly, trust me everyone wants to give 200 per cent but it has to be in the right way.’
Expect chants of ‘you’ll be sacked in the morning’ from the Potters fans if things go our way.
West Ham Team News:
All the pre-match talk is around the future of Gianfranco Zola and it can never help when even your Chairman is also publicly attacking the team’s performance.
West Ham forward Guillermo Franco misses out with an Achilles injury and defender James Tomkins is sidelined with an ankle problem. Defender, Manuel da Costa is available after suspension, while Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer are both fit again.
Player to watch: Robert Green
Green is likely to be England’s first choice keeper at the upcoming World Cup and will be opposite the Danes’ World Cup keeper in the shape of our very own Thomas Sorensen.
Stoke City Team News:
Stoke are without Dean Whitehead after the dreadful performance from Mike Dean last week. Ryan Shawcross is still struggling with an ankle injury, but Tony Pulis is hopeful he’ll be fit. James Beattie is definitely out for the rest of the season after undergoing an knee operation.
Player to watch: Matthew Etherington
The former Hammers’ player has gone from strength to strength since leaving the bright lights and bookies of east London. He now seems to be more than happy to commit his long term future to the Potters and will relish the chance to turn out against his former club.
Match Facts & Stats
Andre Marriner. Come on. Let’s hope for at least one decent ref.
Saturday 3rd April: Hull (home) kick-off: 3pm
Sunday 11th April: Wolves (away) kick-off: 12 noon