Saturday 1st November 2014
Stoke City vs West Ham United
The longer our good streak continues the longer I'll be saying it, but this is a weekend where we will learn a lot about this West Ham side.
After defeating the reigning Champions last weekend, we now head over to the Potteries for the sort of test that many pretenders to the top half will crumble at.
Stoke have always been a very good side at the Britannia, incredibly difficult to beat, very physical, and capable of punishing teams.
This will be a tough game for West Ham, and one we would do very well to get something out of.
Stoke are a side without any real stars or obvious stand out players.
Marko Arnautovic and Victor Moses can both be potent attacking sources, but are also a bit hit and miss. Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson are developing a formidable partnership in the heart of defence, whilst Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam are both underrated midfielders in this division, capable of picking passes and mixing it in defence.
However, arguably the most talented player at the club is Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
The former Portsmouth goalkeeper has been a consistently outstanding performer since moving to Stoke in 2010 as a 23 year old, and is now regularly linked with moves to some of Europe's top clubs - Juventus and Real Madrid have been mentioned in recent months.
What has been particularly impressive about Begovic, is his desire to claim balls into the box. Many goalkeepers struggle with crosses and long balls in the air, not knowing whether to come and catch, to punch, or to back off and leave it to somebody else. Begovic doesn't seem to have that issue, as he comes and catches as much as possible.
The chart below shows his successful and unsuccessful claims since the start of the 2012/13 season. Over that time, Begovic has claimed a remarkable 232 balls into the box, 2.9 per game, with an astounding success rate of 97%.
But the Bosnian is more than just a presence in the air. He is also a fantastic shot stopper, saving points for Stoke on many occasions.
The images below shows the saves Begovic has made since the start of last season. You can see that he has made 79 saves in 41 appearances, at a rate of 1.93 per game. In this time, he has kept 11 clean sheets (one every 3.7 games), and has conceded 46 goals (1.12 per game).
Stoke's defence has a reputation for being pretty impenetrable at times, but the real challenge is once you get past the back four and come face to face with one of the best goalkeepers in the modern game.
How do you stop Stoke?
Stoke are a side that tend to pick up the majority of their points at home, with the Britannia becoming a bit of a fortress since they were promoted to the Premier League.
This season though, they have played four home league games, winning and losing two a piece, and have also lost a Capital One Cup game there (to Southampton on Wednesday night).
So, how did Aston Villa and Leicester City head home from one of the most notoriously difficult away fixtures with three points each, and a clean sheet?
Let's start with the clean sheets. Stoke have a reputation for getting the ball into the box quickly, either via long balls into a target man, or through utilising wingplay. In order to deal with the onslaught of balls into the box, both Villa and Leicester made a large number of clearances from within their own box.
The images below show Villa's 32 clearances (left) and Leicester's 50 (right). You'll notice that a large number of clearances are marked with blue arrows on the images. This denotes a headed clearance, demonstrating that Stoke often go for aerial balls into the box, particularly when chasing a game.
In attack both teams, again, took a similar approach.
Although Stoke possess one of the most resolute defences in the division, they do not possess much pace. As a result, Villa and Leicester attempted a high volume of take ons in attacking areas, isolated defenders and running at them.
The images below again show Villa on the left, and Leicester on the right.
You'll notice that, Villa attempted a higher number within the penalty area, whilst Leicester operated outside the box and down the flanks.
For Villa's goal, both Charles N'Zogbia and Andreas Weimann took on defenders, bundling through tackles on the way to Weimann scoring. And for Leicester's goal, the Foxes worked the ball wide to Paul Konchesky who rolled across the six yard box for Leonardo Ulloa to tap in.
Both goals were indicative of the approaches taken: run at them with speed, and get the ball into the box. This is a tactic that should suit West Ham's current approach to the game, and one that will hopefully pay dividend for the Hammers.
I've already mentioned the lack of pace in defence for Stoke, but that is something that they actually cope with rather well generally, so isn't their main weakness.
The area of the game the Potters most struggle with is at the other end of the pitch, and putting the ball in the back of the net.
Stoke tend to play with a variation on the 4-3-3 formation, with one striker and a couple of wingers. This season, their main six forwards have attempted 44 shots between them in 9 appearances - a combined rate of 4.9 shots per game.
However, they have only hit the target with 32% of those shots, and have scored just 5 goals between them, at a conversion rate of just 11%.
It is an issue that Stoke have experienced in the past, but one that Mark Hughes probably felt he had addressed last season. Last year, Stoke were the 10th highest scoring side in the division. So far this season, they are down to 15th.
It is still early in the season and, of course, all of this could change, but as it stands Stoke are struggling to put the ball in the back of the net.
An away trip to the Potteries is never easy.
West Ham will have a serious job on to get through a very successful defence and talented goalkeeper, and will have to deal with a couple of tricky customers at the other end too.
Coming away with anything will be a very good return, and a victory would be a massive achievement.
But optimism is high in East London, and let's hope that con continue after the weekend.
Head to Head
37% Head to Head Win % 40%
33 Won 36
21 Drawn 21
36 Lost 33
106 Goals Scored 129
129 Goals Conceded 106
Recent Form (excl. Friendlies)
W W L W L L Last 6 D W L W W W
10 Goals Scored 13
9 Goals Conceded 6
L W L W W L Home/Away Form L L W D L W
8 Goals Scored 9
6 Goals Conceded 9
Form Player (excl. GK)
(Last 6 League)
Victor Moses - Stewart Downing
6 Appearances 6
540 Minutes Played 540
161 Sum Squawka Performance Score 213
27 Average Squawka Performance Rating 36
107 Passes Attempted 272
89 Completed 232
83% Success Rate 85%
14 Chances Created 20
3 Assists 3
7 Attempts on Goal 8
4 On Target 3
0 Goals 0
36 Take Ons Attempted 9
21 Successful Take Ons 5
58% Success Rate 56%
16 Tackles Made 9
10 Successful Tackles 3
63% Success Rate 33%
6 Interceptions 3
4 Clearances 9
0 Blocks 0
2 Defensive Actions Per Game 2
10 Aerial Duels 2
2 Won 1
20% Success Rate 50%
0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
11 May 2014
0-1 Andy Carroll 5'
1-1 Peter Odemwingie 32'
2-1 Marko Arnautovic 69'
3-1 Peter Odemwingie 79
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Asmir Begovic - Adrián
Geoff Cameron - Guy Demel
Ryan Shawcross - James Tomkins
Marc Wilson - Winston Reid
(14') Erik Pieters - George McCartney
Steven N'Zonzi - Mark Noble
Glenn Whelan - Antonio Nocerino (76')
Peter Odemwingie - Stewart Downing (62')
Stephen Ireland - Kevin Nolan
Marko Arnautovic - Mohamed Diamé
Peter Crouch - Andy Carroll (83')
Thomas Sorenson - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Ryan Shotton - James Collins
(14') Marc Muniesa - Pablo Armero (83')
Andy Wilkinson - Matthew Taylor
Wilson Palacios - Matt Jarvis
Matthew Etherington - Joe Cole (62')
John Guidetti - Carlton Cole (76')
Stoke City: Robert Huth, Glenn Whelan, Peter Odemwingie
West Ham United: Gey Demel, Mauro Zárate, Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho
Stoke City: Phil Bardsley, Peter Crouch
West Ham United:
Opposition Last Time Out (League)
Goals Scored: 0
Goals Conceded: 1
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Phil Bardsley Ryan Shawcross Marc Wilson Erik Pieters
Steven N'Zonzi Charlie Adam (53')
Jonathan Walters (69') Geoff Cameron Victor Moses (79')
Oussama Assaidi (79')
Marko Arnautovic (69')
Mame Biram Diouf (53')
Best Player: Phil Bardsley(SR: 7.6)
Worst Player: Oussama Assaidi(SR: 5.9)
Top 5's (Min 5 Apps)
Charlie Adam 2 - 6 Diafra Sakho
Mame Biram Diouf 2 - 2 Carlton Cole
Jonathan Walters 2 - 2 Enner Valencia
Peter Crouch 1 - 2 Morgan Amalfitano
Ryan Shawcross 1 - 1 Mauro Zárate
Victor Moses 3 - 3 Stewart Downing
Oussama Assaidi 1 - 2 James Tomkins
Erik Pieters 1 - 2 Aaron Cresswell
Peter Crouch 1 - 1 Mauro Zárate
- 1 Carl Jenkinson
Oussama Assaidi 89% - 87% Mark Noble
Glenn Whelan 89% - 86% Carl Jenkinson
Steven N'Zonzi 85% - 84% Winston Reid
Victor Moses 83% - 84% Alex Song
Erik Pieters 83% - 83% Stewart Downing
Chances Created per 90
Marko Arnautovic 2.41 - 2.56 Stewart Downing
Victor Moses 2 - 1.44 Aaron Cresswell
Glenn Whelan 1.15 - 1.43 Mark Noble
Peter Crouch 0.94 - 0.8 Alex Song
Steven N'Zonzi 0.89 - 0.65 Diafra Sakho
Successful Dribbles per 90
Victor Moses 4 - 2 Enner Valencia
Steven N'Zonzi 2.77 - 1.07 Morgan Amalfitano
Marko Arnautovic 2.18 - 1 Alex Song
Jonathan Walters 2.17 - 0.95 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Mame Biram Diouf 2.11 - 0.71 Mark Noble
Tackles Won per 90
Charlie Adam 4 - 2.85 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Oussama Assaidi 2.77 - 2.81 Alex Song
Erik Pieters 2.18 - 2.43 Mark Noble
Victor Moses 2.17 - 1.62 Diafra Sakho
Phil Bardsley 2.11 - 1.32 Carl Jenkinson
Aerial Duels Won per 90
Peter Crouch 8.56 - 3.55 Diafra Sakho
Jonathan Walters 3.81 - 3.5 James Tomkins
Ryan Shawcross 3.56 - 3.33 Winston Reid
Marc Wilson 3.11 - 2.85 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Erik Pieters 2.89 - 2.09 Carlton Cole
Mark Hughes - Sam Allardyce
01/11/1963 DOB 19/10/1954
50 Age 60
Manchester United Main Club Bolton Wanderers
473 Appearances 231
163 Goals 24
7 Total Clubs 9
799 Appearances 512
224 Goals 43
Wales National Team England
72 Caps 0
Wales First Managerial Role Preston North End
04/08/1999 Start Date 30/09/1992
15y 2m 21d Experience 22y 0m 24d
6 Sides Managed 7
0 League Titles 2
0 Cup Wins 0
38.2% Win % 39.9%
164 Won 354
113 Drawn 232
152 Lost 301
Longest Role (excl. Current)
Blackburn Rovers Club Bolton Wanderers
15/09/2004 Appointed 19/10/1999
03/06/2008 Left 29/04/2007
3y 8m 17d Time in Charge 7y 6m 9d
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
43.6% Win % 41.2%
82 Won 153
47 Drawn 104
59 Lost 114
30/05/2013 Appointed 01/06/2011
1y 4m 26d Time in Charge 3y 4m 24d
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
38.1% Win % 40.4%
21 Won 59
14 Drawn 33
20 Lost 54