West Ham host Stoke in the Monday Night Football, and Mike Norman believes backing the home side to win is the obvious call with the Potters in such poor form...
"From West Ham's last 13 league home wins, 12 of them were achieved without conceding a single goal (the exception was a 2-1 over West Brom), while 10 of them were against largely out of form teams in and around the bottom half of the table."
West Ham v Stoke
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Decent record for Hammers against struggling sides
Following a disastrous game at home to Burnley - on and off the pitch - West Ham have bounced back in fine style, thrashing fellow relegation candidates Southampton 3-0 at the London Stadium before drawing with champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Those vital four points have moved the Hammers six points above the drop zone, and a win on Monday night will move them up to 12th in the table and almost guarantee their Premier League status for next season.
Interestingly, West Ham won seven times in the league on home soil last term, and all of those victories were achieved without conceding, and largely against bottom half sides. This term David Moyes' men have won six league games at the London Stadium, five were achieved without conceding and five of the victories were against bottom half sides.
Out of form Potters look Championship bound
The appointment of Paul Lambert seemed an odd one at the time, but the new boss briefly won over a few doubters by beating Huddersfield 2-0 in his first game in charge.
Since then though Stoke have collected just four points from the 27 available to them, they've lost their last four on the spin, and they are firmly rooted in the relegation zone six points from safety, effectively seven if you consider their goal difference. The Championship seemingly beckons.
Away from home the Potters haven't tasted success since October 2017, failing to win any of their last 12 matches on the road in all competitions. They've also failed to score a single goal in four of their last six away games, conceding 14 goals in the process and scoring just two.
The Hammers can be backed at [2.04] to take all three points, Stoke are trading at [4.3], while the Draw can be backed at [3.55].
West Ham are a very difficult side to predict, just look at their last two home games for evidence of that; they were abysmal in the 0-3 loss to Burnley, brilliant in the 3-0 win over Southampton. But perhaps there's a clue in those two results. The Clarets are on the verge of the top six and are in excellent form, the Saints are - like Stoke - in the relegation zone and very much out of form.
As we alluded to earlier, West Ham have a decent record against mid-low half sides that are out of form in recent seasons, so a home win looks by far the safest wager.
And if we're being honest, it's impossible to make a case for Stoke going to the London Stadium and taking all three points. They've won just once under Lambert, they haven't won on the road for six months, and they lost the reverse of this fixture on home soil 0-3!
Let me just remind you of those stats. From West Ham's last 13 league home wins, 12 of them were achieved without conceding a single goal (the exception was a 2-1 win over West Brom), while 10 of them were against largely out of form teams in and around the bottom half of the table (1-0 wins over Spurs and Chelsea being the exceptions here).
So if you are of the belief that Moyes' men can get the better of another lowly, out of form side at the London Stadium, then surely the percentage call is to back a West Ham Win to Nil at 9/4 on the Sportsbook.
Former Stoke favourite Mark Arnautovic is the favourite in the First Goalscorer market at 7/2, and that's understandable given he was virtually unplayable in West Ham's 3-0 win over Southampton last time, scoring twice.
He'll be eager to score against his former employers that's for sure, just like he did in the reverse fixture in December, and I can see the highly talented Austrian getting on the scoresheet at some point during the game if the Hammers click into top gear. Take the 13/10 on offer about him doing so.
Mike's Individual Match Preview P/L (all competitions)
Staked: 51 pts
Returned: 63.02 pts
P/L: +12.02 pts