Stoke City v West Ham: Irons bandwagon to roll on at the Brit

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Had you told pretty much any West Ham fan that nine games into the Premier League season they would have been occupying a top four spot, having beaten both Manchester City and Liverpool, most would have said you were crazy.

But the Hammers continue to impress and some people suggesting that European qualification is well within reach, the east Londoners will be looking for the momentum to continue at Stoke.

The Potters meanwhile sit in 11th in the table, but have yet to convince that they can sustain a consistent challenge to finish in the top half of the table.

Ladbrokes News’ Ben Stones picks out his three best bets for the action at the Britannia Stadium.

West Ham to win @ 21/10

For a side on a winning run of four games, in the Champions League spots, over 2/1 against a side that have shown little to shout about of late, simply has to be taken.

The Hammers do look like being without six-goal striker Diafra Sakho, but they should still have enough quality in their locker to see off the Potters who will without Peter Crouch and Phil Bardsley to add to various injury worries.

The old adage about Stoke being difficult to beat at home seems to have disappeared, with half of their games at the Britannia this campaign ending in defeat.

West Ham to score first @ 11/10

If the visitors are to bag another three points, scoring the first goal would be a good way to go about it.

Sam Allardyce’s side have done well breaking the deadlock recently, getting on the scoresheet before their opponents in four of their last five matches, and are a nice price to do so once again.

Stoke; conversely, have struggled in front of goal all season, netting just eight times, only Aston Villa and Burnley scoring fewer goals. Mark Hughes’ men have fallen behind in their last four competitive fixtures, so have to be opposed in this market.

Carlton Cole to score last @ 7/1 or anytime @ 27/10

The injury to Sakho could hurt West Ham, but Hammers fans will be raring for Sir Carlton to step up and take his chance in the starting XI.

Big Sam may turn to Cole to partner Enner Valencia up top, something that could pay dividends for the Irons.

The former Chelsea man has scored twice this season, both away from home. With another trip away from the Boleyn on offer here, he could pop up with a goal.

Should Allardyce choose someone else to partner the Ecuadorian up front, Cole could come off the bench again to add the last strike to proceedings.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.