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West Ham v Stoke: Pragmatics to prevail in Upton Park stalemate

| 30.08.2013

In a game that has got pragmatists the world over scrambling to east London for tickets, West Ham are having Stoke round for an afternoon where flair and finesse are strictly prohibited.

The Hammers go into the game as 1/1 favourites after taking four points from their opening two games, one better than their burly foes from the Potteries who are 14/5 to triumph after getting off the mark at home to Crystal Palace last time out.

Given the similarities between the pair, though, it’s the draw that appears the most enticing at 23/10.

Three of their last five encounters have ended all square after 90 minutes and, with West Ham allowing the opposition just one shot on target in their opening two Premier League games, they look as though they’re going to be tougher to beat than last term.

Stoke have their own goalscoring concerns, with set pieces remaining their biggest threat despite bringing in Mark Hughes to improve the sex appeal of their approach play.

Backing the draw combined with under 2.5 goals in the total result market could be a profitable path to take, with each of the aforementioned stalemates between this cloned pair finishing 1-1; it pays out at 27/10.

However, one thing that could scupper this bet is the Potters’ woeful away record.

The whole of last season yielded just two victories on the road and this no doubt conspired against Tony Pulis when his ill-fated end-of-term review was conducted earlier in the summer.

To further emphasise just how atrociously bad Stoke are on their travels, they failed to bag in seven on their final 12 games played away from the Britannia last season and haven’t been able to exercise these demons of yet, drawing a blank and losing away to Liverpool in the first game of this campaign.

Bearing all of this in mind, the 7/5 that says they won’t score at Upton Park must tempt as a side offering.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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James Middleton