This time last season we were 15th with nine points from our opening nine games after scoring just eight goals.

Fast forward 12 months and we find ourselves fourth with 16 points after nine games, after banging in 17 goals and beating the likes of Liverpool and Man City. Who would’ve thought it?

It’s been a dream start to the season for us after something of a dream summer transfer window that saw us bring some of the best players we’ve seen at the club for many years. And now we prepare to visit one of the toughest places to go in the Premier League. Stoke.

And despite our form and the start we’ve had, it’s still hard to find the confidence and belief that we’ll make easy work of a Stoke side that hasn’t exactly been the most impressive side in the league this season, such is a record against them.

And if goal machine Diafra Sakho does miss out through his shoulder injury, we’ll be relying on the main man Enner Valencia to come up with one or two more world class goals to fill the void left by Sakho.

The strength in depth we’re able to boast this season means Sakho’s potential absence may not heart us as much as it would’ve done last season. We’ve Mauro Zarate waiting in the wings, and the ever reliable Carlton Cole, who’s chasing number one spot in the club’s all-time Premier League goal scoring charts.

So although today will be a tough game, we’ve once again got enough about us to come away with all three points. That’d mean making it four wins on the bounce. And that would take us up in to third in the Premier League. THIRD.

Some will say we’re getting a bit too carried away with how well we’re doing. I say we’re going to enjoy it while it lasts, because this has to be the best period at the club for many, many, many years. Long may it continue.

Prediction:  Third.

Team News

Stoke City (12th, 11 points)

Peter Crouch and Phil Bardsley both miss out through suspension.

Stoke’s only injury doubt is defender Marc Muniesa, who faces a late fitness test after injuring his ankle during training last week.

West Ham United (4th, 16 points)

Diafra Sakho faces a late fitness test on a shoulder injury picked up in the win over Man City last weekend.

Maruo Zarate is also doubtful with a thigh issue, but Matt Jarvis and James Tomkins are both available for selection after recovering from injury.

Potential Starting XI

Last 10 Meetings

15 Mar 2014Premier LeagueBritannia StadiumL 3-1
31 Aug 2013Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundL 1-0
2 Mar 2013Premier LeagueBritannia StadiumW 1-0
19 Nov 2012Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundD 1-1
13 Mar 2011FA Cup 6th RoundBritannia StadiumL 2-1
5 Mar 2011Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundW 3-0
27 Oct 2010League Cup 4th RoundBoleyn GroundW 3-1
18 Sep 2010Premier LeagueBritannia StadiumD 1-1
27 Mar 2010Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundL 1-0
17 Oct 2009Premier LeagueBritannia StadiumL 2-1

Match in Numbers

8 – Stoke have won eight of their last 12 Premier League home games

22 – And they have allowed their opponents fewer shots (22) on goal that anyone in the league this season

8 – West Ham have scored in eight successive Premier League matches for the first time since November 2009

7 – If he starts and scores, Diafra Sakho will become the first player in Premier League history to score in his first seven starts in the competition

200 – If he plays, Carlton Cole will make his 200th Premier League appearance for West Ham. Only Steve Potts (204) and Mark Noble (201) have made more

2 – Stoke have beaten West Ham just twice in the league at home since 1983.

2 – The Hammers have kept just two clean sheets in their last 21 Premier League games

6 – The Britannia Stadium has seen just six goals in the league this season, which is the lowest total across all four English division

Fan Predictions

Head-to-Head (all competitions)

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