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Stoke City v West Ham: Matchday 18 Live Thread

Now the crucial part of the season begins

Stoke City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

West Ham United have now exited their four game murderous stretch, but now face the most crucial point of their season: the last fixtures of 2017 into the early ones of 2018, with a trip to fellow underachieving struggles Stoke City.

It’s a vital contest at the bet365 stadium, as both teams are just separated by two points from 15th to 19th place. While David Moyes has found some needed quality performances in the last three matches against Manchester City and London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, the real test for the Hammers at whether they will look in a season-long fight for survival begins now. There are many possible games for victories for West Ham in this holiday stretch, and that comes with this fixture against Stoke, who are in badly need of a result to prevent their own nervous future.

Moyes will be without the services of Winston Reid, as the Hammers vice-captain is suspended for his silly yellow card at the end of the Arsenal match. But the team has no need injuries, and will have a near available squad with Jose Fonte the only long term injury.

Mark Hughes’ unavailable list for Stoke isn’t that high, but they will be without the services of the talented trio of Kurt Zoma, Jese and Bruno Martins Indi. The Stoke boss knows he needs to string some results together fast, or he will be the last Premier League manager to receive the sack.

It’s another pressurized fixture for Moyes’ new side, as West Ham need to build on their success against the Premier League’s elite and beat the opponents around them. We’ll see who will fulfill many people’s bets at the bet365.