It feels like an age since the defeat to Everton, and things got no better after West Ham couldn’t overturn a Stoke side that has been strong all season at The Britannia. A chilly afternoon saw The Hammers get off to a flying start with a fine headed goal from Andy Carroll after just five minutes, who was looking to impress with a few seats on the plane to Brazil still up for grabs.
Big Sam made four changes to the side that lost at Goodison Park two weeks ago. Carroll, Reid, Diame and a first start for the Italian Antonio Nocerino were the replacements, and maybe a lack of game time or one dimensional tactics from Allardyce and his team led to a second defeat in succession.
Stoke grabbed an equaliser in the 32nd minute. An in-swinging saw Crouch get the better of the West Ham defence heading towards goal for Odemwingie to nod home from under the crossbar. The score stayed at 1-1 until half time. At this point I’m sure the West Ham faithful were happy as they had for the main part, created the better chances with Carroll looking a threat throughout.
Unfortunately for the away side, the second half did not offer quite as many positives. A disallowed goal by Kevin Nolan along with a couple of penalty shouts that were turned down were the main talking points as far as The Hammers were concerned. These unfortunate decisions have been all too common for West Ham this season and after the appeals were declined by referee Craig Pawson, the result was inevitable.
The Potters went 2-1 up after 69 minutes. Ireland linking up with Arnautovic who slotted home following a break away. This was followed up by Odemwingie’s second goal of the afternoon, and no one can deny the Nigerian that his goal was a deserved winner for the home side.
West Ham offered very little second half, and although they may feel hard done by at times, I feel that four changes to the team was an unnecessary amount from the manager. This combined with tactics that are far too easy to read for the opposing side resulted in a loss for the boys in claret and blue. I’m sure that this won’t be the last time it is said before the final day of the season, but West Ham need a ‘Plan B’ as the long ball up to Carroll can, at times be very effective and sometimes unplayable for the opponents, however against teams with a strong defence, such as Stoke, a different method is needed to create chances.