West Ham and Stoke City played out a stalemate at Upton Park as the Hammers endured their third consecutive draw on Saturday afternoon (December 12).
Before the fixture, West Ham had won just two of their last eight Barclays Premier League home games but were unbeaten in the last five while Stoke scored just six goals in their previous 10 Premier League away trips and conceded just nine.
The first piece of goal mouth action of the game came from the hosts as Cheikhou Kouayte’s fierce drive from just outside the box stung the hands of in form Stoke keeper Jack Butland, before West Ham winger Michail Antonio, making his debut in claret and blue, shot was easily handled by the star of Stoke’s side.
Just under the 10 minute mark, Dutch winger Ibrahim Afellay was Stoke’s bright spark and his dangerous cross almost found on loan Chelsea player Marco Van Ginkel. Any touch from Van Ginkel and it would have been 1-0 to the visitors.
Seconds later the combination of Afellay and Van Ginkel worked again but the latter failed to get a proper connection on his shot from seven yards out.
As half an hour approached both teams were keeping possession but the lack of quality in the final third really was evident. Both defences looked resilient and the score had 0-0 written all over it.
Austrian attacker Marko Arnautovic had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring as former Hammers full back Glen Johnson’s was met by Arnautovic whose first time side-footed effort just outside the six yard box went narrowly wide.
Havoc was created in the Stoke box on the 38th minute from a Mauro Zarate free kick and after some pinball, centre half James Collins’ tame effort failed to trouble Butland.
Huge shouts for a penalty were firmly rejected by referee Andre Marriner after captain Mark Noble intercepted opposing captain Ryan Shawcross’ loose pass and burst into the box and was brought down by the Potters skipper on the 43rd minute.
Just before the interval, Hammers left back Aaron Cresswell’s low cross almost found Antonio sprinting to get on the end of it but Stoke left back Erik Pieters produced a last ditch interception which was the last piece of action in the first half.
Barely minutes into the second half and striker Andy Carroll’s header caught Butland unaware but the England’s future first choice keeper did well to scramble along his line and deny Carroll’s second goal of the season.
Cresswell’s teasing cross into the penalty area found Antonio who was unprepared and his attempted header went well over the bar as the East Londoners started the second half as the better side.
On the hour mark, the hosts created their best chance of the game as Antonio produced an acrobatic scissor kick from a hopeful long ball forward resulted Butland making the save. At the other end, Arnautovic’s drilled effort went straight into the hands of Adrian as the game intensified.
A 25 yard deflected free kick from Arnautovic was just a lick of paint away from giving Stoke the advantage as Mark Hughes’ men upped the pressure with 20 minutes remaining.
Cresswell was ever more becoming a threat to Stoke and the former Ipswich Town full back’s cross-cum-shot forced Butland to parry for a corner after 78 minutes.
After 80 minutes, a flowing Stoke move resulted in Adrian making a superb stop with his legs from substitute Mame Biram Diouf and the Hammers were spared their blushes.
With 10 minutes left the crowd were on their feet urging the home side to go for that all important goal that could eventually win the match. A jinking run from Mauro Zarate saw the Argentine smash his drive that rattled the post.
The E13 club were really pushing for the winner and substitute Enner Valencia’s audacious 35 yard free kick saw Butland tip the ball over the bar.
At the other end, Diouf had another one on one chance to seal the win after 88 minutes but like the first time Adrian stopped the ball rattling the net with the lower half of his body.
Right at the death, drama ensued as Zarate’s corner saw Stoke fail to clear their lines and Kouate’s header was cleared off the line by Johnson to salvage a point before the full time whistle blew.
West Ham: Adrian, Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Song (Valencia, 63), Kouyate, Noble ©, Antonio (Jelavic, 82); Zarate, Carroll.
Subs Not Used: Randolph, Jenkinson, Oxford, Obiang, Cullen.
Stoke: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross ©, Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Van Ginkel (Diouf, 55), Cameron (Adam, 70), Afellay (Walters, 66), Arnautovic; Bojan.
Subs Not Used: Haugaard, Bardsley, Wilson, Joselu.