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Premier League Preview: West Ham United vs. Stoke City

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  • West Ham won 3-0 at Stoke on Dec. 16
  • Stoke have drawn last three at WHUFC
  • West Ham leads all-time 35W-25D-33L

West Ham United can go a long way toward clinching another season in the Premier League by piling woe on a Stoke City which really needs a win at the London Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Stoke City is six points back of safety, and seven behind West Ham United. The Potters next face Burnley and Liverpool, before finishing with Crystal Palace and Swansea City.

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West Ham has rebounded from three-straight league losses to wallop Southampton and draw Chelsea, while Stoke is winless in nine with just four draws (The Potters have faced a murderer’s row of opponents lately, including Man City, Arsenal, and Spurs amongst their last four).

What they’re saying

West Ham manager David Moyes looks to Marko Arnautovic“The players look to him. He’s got a leadership role which he needs to develop as well for the team and for the club, because he is getting to an age where he has to influence the players around him, so he needs to lead by both his character and his performances, and his performances have done that in many ways. He is vocal in his own way. He has good humour, he’s a character and I’d like him to put that talking about what he can do in training. To get to the very top, he needs to keep his level of training very high.”

Stoke boss Paul Lambert on in-form Mame Biram Diouf“If you look at Mame’s games it’s clear that he gives you everything that he’s got. His work ethic and the way he goes about things is excellent. It’s not just on a match day it’s at the training ground as well. The way he conducts himself is first class and he does everything for the right reasons; the level of his performances has been very, very good. He needs a little bit of help up there as well at certain times but I think his performances have been first class.

Prediction

Paul Lambert remains confident Stoke can survive relegation

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It’s certainly not an easy task, but Paul Lambert remains confident that he and his Stoke City side will be able to keep a place in England’s top flight next season.

The Potters currently sit in 19th place in the Premier League, three points buried in the relegation race.

While that doesn’t seem too far away from safety, Stoke has managed to secure one victory in its last 12 domestic fixtures, which doesn’t bode well for a club facing upcoming matches against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Lambert recognizes the challenges of keeping a team above the red line at the bottom of the PL, and says his team will need to keep a strong mindset in order to survive a drop down to the Championship.

“I view them as important as everything else,” Lambert said ahead of an important stretch of matches in the PL. “It is not down beat or anything like that but I am going to fight. As long as you fight you have a chance and that’s what you do, you keep fighting for it.

“It is a tough game but I know we are more than capable of winning and that’s the mindset I’ll have when we go down there.

“It is a really tough game, the next couple of games are tough, but I can see that right through the seven games. But we are in with a fight.”

With the Gunners awaiting Stoke this weekend following the international break, Lambert is ready for a fight at the Emirates Stadium, and doesn’t expect any easy outing against an Arsenal side that has proven deadly when on its game.

“It is a really tough place to go, I am fortunate enough to have won there myself and I know what it is like to win there, lose and draw there,” he said. “I’m new to this club, what happened in the past isn’t of interest to me.”

To close out the season, Stoke plays just three of its seven matches against clubs in the bottom half of the table, with West Ham, Crystal Palace and Swansea City awaiting the battle-tested squad.

Stoke City hires Paul Lambert for relegation scrap

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Having been turned down by a former Wycombe, Norwich City, and Aston Villa manager, Stoke City has turned to another former Wycombe, Norwich City, and Aston Villa manager.

Paul Lambert is the new Stoke City boss, accepting the job a day after Martin O’Neill reportedly said no to the gig.

The club said it was impressed with Lambert’s knowledge of its players and success at clubs “with a strong and stable background and with local ownership” like Stoke.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 4-3 Man City | 3 things ]

Lambert, 48, led Norwich City to promotion and most recently led Wolverhampton Wanderers from 2016-17.

He signs a 2.5 year deal at the Potteries, and will watch from the stands for Monday’s visit to Old Trafford before taking his seat in the dugout home to Huddersfield Town on Jan. 20.

Stoke sits in the relegation zone, a point back of 17th place Southampton. Lambert is no stranger to a relegation scrap, and is a decent door prize for a club reportedly rejected by O’Neill, Quique Sanchez Flores, and Gary Rowett.

Out at home: Wolves oust young Liverpool from FA Cup (video)

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For 45 minutes, Wolverhampton played the role of Liverpool at Anfield.

Wolves took advantage of a weakened Reds side on Saturday to walk away with a 2-1 win and a fifth round berth in the 2016-17 FA Cup.

Richard Stearman scored 51 seconds into the game off a Helder Costa free kick, and Andreas Weimann made it 2-0 before the break.

Divock Origi slotted an 86th minute goal for Liverpool when Daniel Sturridge nodded a corner back across goal. The Reds are 1W-3D-4L since the calendar turned to 2017.

[ MORE: West Ham players not thinking of Payet ]

Stearman flirted with offside to score his goal, one that put the Reds on the back foot almost instantly. Loris Karius is regretting not coming out to snare the orb.

Liverpool started backup keeper Loris Karius to go with lesser-used players Connor Randall, Ovie Ejaria, and Ben Woodburn.

Origi, Roberto Firmino, and Georginio Wijnaldum were in the Starting XI. No surprise that Philippe Coutinho entered the fray for Randall at the break.

The Reds were much better in the second half, but still off by strides. Alberto Moreno‘s promising run ended in a 61st minute goal kick.

Klopp turned to Sturridge, taking off Firmino. The striker helped the Reds pull back within one.

Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Aston Villa

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Aston Villa’s survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and it could be another close run thing for Tim Sherwood’s side this year.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

After losing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively over the summer, Sherwood has had the heart of his team ripped out. With plenty of new additions from France’s Ligue 1 who are talented, but unproven in the PL, expect another season of struggle for the Villans. Last season’s run to the FA Cup final provided brief respite for the Midlands club, who are openly on the market as American owner Randy Lerner looks to sell.

The Birmingham-based club have a rich history, winning seven league titles in their history and a European Cup in 1982, but relegation battles have been commonplace in recent seasons although Villa are one of seven clubs to have never been relegated from the PL. Villa’s arch rivals are Championship side Birmingham City, but their local foes in the PL include West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City.

Best possible XI:

—– Guzan —–

— Hutton — Richards — Clark — Amavi —

— Westwood —– Gueye —

—– Bacuna —-  Grealish —- Agbonlahor —-

—— J. Ayew—–

Transfers In: Scott Sinclair ($4 million, Manchester City), Micah Richards (Free, Manchester City), Mark Bunn (Free, Norwich City), Idrissa Gueye ($15 million, Lille), Jordan Amavi ($15 million, Nice), Jordan Ayew ($15 million, Lorient)

Transfers Out: Christian Benteke ($49 million, Liverpool), Fabian Delph ($12 million, Manchester City), Ron Vlaar (Released), Shay Given (Free, Stoke City), Matthew Lowton ($1.5 million, Burnley), Andreas Weimann ($4 million, Derby County), Yacouba Sylla (Undisclosed, Stade Reannais), Antonio Luna (Free, Eibar), Nicklas Helenius (Free, Aalborg BK)

Last season: 17th in PL, Runners up in FA Cup – Villa struggled massively and Paul Lambert was fired in February with the battle against relegation looking grim. Sherwood arrived and helped steady the ship and got the best out of Benteke, Delph and found a gem in Jack Grealish to lift them up the table with some crucial wins at the end of the campaign. They survived. Just.

source: Getty Images
Villa’s new midfielder, Idrissa Gueye

Star player: Idrissa Gueye – The holding midfielder from Lille comes with a huge reputation and his displays in preseason have drawn rave reviews. Gueye, a Senegalese international, will be in the thick of the battle week in, week out for Villa and is likely to be influential if Sherwood’s side can kick on and move towards the top 10 this season.

Coaches’ Corner: The nickname “Tactics Tim” is perhaps a little harsh on Sherwood as he motivated Villa last season and did what he had to do in order to save a team, which was severely lacking in confidence, from the drop. Losing Benteke and Delph will hurt his chances of succeeding this season, but the board have given Sherwood money to spend and this will truly be his Villa side. A top 10 finish would be a great achievement, but expect Sherwood to be one of the favorites for the sack if they struggle at the start of the season.

PST predicts: Another season of struggle beckons for Villa, but they might just surprise a few people. Sherwood is a young, energetic manager and his side is full of players who have yet to taste the PL or are looking for a second chance to prove themselves. Villa should stave off relegation, but it may not be pretty.