Across the last four gameweeks of Premier League action, only four strikers have had more goal attempts than West Ham’s Andy Carroll
The England target man may have only registered two goals in this period, with one coming from the penalty spot, but he is clearly a proactive part Slaven Bilic’s attacking structure. The fact no frontman has had more penalty-box touches in this period shows how useful Carroll is being in getting the Hammers in and around the box.
With a Stoke side that have shipped 11 goals across their last four matches providing the final Premier League opponent for West Ham, Carroll will understandably be licking his lips at a last chance to prove to Roy Hodgson that he is worth a spot in the England squad for Euro 2016.
However, there are clear reasons why Carroll should be replaced by Diafra Sakho in attack if the London side are to end the season with an eighth away triumph of the campaign.
The first reason is that Stoke tend to prefer defending with a high line, especially at home. Therefore, it makes sense to start an attacker willing to run in behind, ahead of another who is more at home playing in front of them.
Secondly, Stoke skipper and generally best defender Ryan Shawcross has struggled against mobile attackers in recent games, being caused countless problems by Dele Alli and Kelechi Iheanacho respectively in the 4-0 defeats to Tottenham and Manchester City.
Shawcross will find life easier competing in a physical battle with Carroll over stopping the pace and movement of Sakho.
Meanwhile, Sakho may also pose the biggest danger to Shawcross’ defensive partner. If it is Philipp Wollscheid, the Senegalese striker’s extra energy will put pressure on his distribution. If it is Geoff Cameron, Sakho’s pace increases the likelihood of a penalty being won against a player that is developing an unwanted tag of conceding them.
West Ham have scored at least twice in six of their last seven away matches in all competitions and backing the Hammers at 4/5 to net over 1.5 against looks one way to profit. Sakho to score at any time is also appealing at 17/10.
However, it is the wincast of Sakho to score and West Ham to win at 14/5 that is the most tempting of all betting opportunities at the Britannia.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.