LONDON (Reuters) - Stoke City face fellow relegation candidates West Ham United at the London Stadium on Monday hoping to avoid a fifth successive defeat in the Premier League.
Paul Lambert’s second-bottom side are four points from the safety zone heading into the weekend action, with West Ham also struggling just six points clear of the relegation places.
Here is what the fans say about their respective clubs:
Neville Nixon, Editor, westhamfans.org
“The general consensus is that the Stoke City game is a season defining match, and especially given the remaining matches West Ham still have to play.
“None of our upcoming games are easy and therefore it’s essential we pick up three points against Stoke on Monday.
“This is one of those games where the team that scores first will be in the ascendancy, but a goal for Stoke early on could turn the home crowd.
“Much depends on how (West Ham forward) Marko Arnautovic plays against his former club. If the Stoke fans turn up rather than choosing to watch the match at home on TV, then ironically their presence will probably spur Arnautovic on to new heights.
“They gave him relentless stick on his return to the bet365 Stadium in December and he went on to score.
“Neither of the two clubs are safe, and Stoke’s fate could largely be dictated by the result on Monday. A defeat will probably condemn them to joining the likes of West Brom in the Championship next season.
“The feeling among most of our members and most Hammers’ fans in general, is one of unrest. If things had gone well this season then the feel-good factor would have overridden the questions about funding and what to do with the dreadful eyesore of a stadium that replaced our beloved Boleyn Ground. Fans feel cheated, ‘They were sold a dream and were given a nightmare’.”
Ben Rowley, Co-Host, The Bear Pit TV: Stoke City Fan Channel
“This is a critical game for three reasons. Number one, to secure some vital points in our bid to avoid the drop. Number two, for morale because we have not won since Paul Lambert’s first game in charge and the sooner that changes, the more likely we will stay up. Number three is to get one over Marko Arnautovic who scored on his return to Stoke in the reverse fixture.
“We’ve got one of the worst away records in English football this season, but performances are improving game-by-game. If you add in the rivalry we have with West Ham and Arnautovic, I can see Stoke being up for this one and earning a point in a 1-1 draw.
“West Ham’s form is all over the shop and who knows which West Ham side will turn up on Monday night? If anyone is going to do damage, the narrative points to the talismanic Austrian (Arnautovic) inflicting it upon us.
“A certain amount of blame must sit with Lambert and his players: we had a tasty run of winnable fixtures that only amounted to draws and harsh defeats. He seems to think we’ll pick up points from somewhere and it’s this naivety that sees us in the bottom three.
“That said, most of Stoke’s fate is, and was, out of his hands. The Board have so many questions to answer at the end of the season, wherever we end up.
“If we play like we did against Spurs for the rest of the season (in a 2-1 home defeat in Stoke’s last match), we’ll beat the drop, but the bottom line is that we need to score more goals than the opposition in a football game for once. That’s something we’ve not done for a very, very long time.”
Editing by Ken Ferris