Stoke City face a challenging trip to the London Stadium on Saturday. While the season is only a quarter of the way through, the clash with West Ham could shape the rest of the season for the Potters.
Stoke City’s form in recent weeks has brought a smile to faces in Staffordshire.
An ever-gelling team, a potent attacking force and a stable defence have all played parts in turning things around.
Despite a promising few weeks, the Potters must be cautious not to let things get the better of them at the weekend.
Hostile atmosphere may prove daunting
West Ham have had their issues on and off the pitch since moving to the London Stadium.
The crowd are playing their part in making East London an undesirable place to go.
Stoke City must react to the this in the right way and concentrate on playing their football.
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Away form this season is going to be crucial if Mark Hughes is going to improve on recent finishing positions.
If Stoke are able to get something at the bubbling cauldron that is the London Stadium, then belief to go anywhere in the league and get a result will be high.
A weakened front line a factor
In a long, drawn-out season, squad depth is a crucial part of a teams success.
With injuries and suspensions as likely as the sun rising, Stoke must have reinforcements in place.
Saturday will be the first time Hughes will be forced to somewhat shuffle his pack.
Marko Arnautovic will miss the game this weekend as he serves a one-match ban for collecting five yellow cards.
Xherdan Shaqiri is also a doubt after coming off in the first-half on Monday night against Swansea.
It remains to be seen which changes Hughes will make, although young Egyptian Ramadan Sobhi will feel aggrieved to be overlooked for a start on the wing.
The final piece of the puzzle is the other side. With Arnautovic out, the door could be open for Jon Walters or Bojan Krkic to step back into the fold.
Whichever combination Hughes decides to go with, it will test the depth of the Stoke City squad.
Potential hangs in the balance
With all things considered, Stoke will arguably be happy with a point on Saturday.
If a slightly weakened side playing in front of a raucous crowd can put a shift in and bring at least a point back to the Bet365 Stadium, then all signs will point up.
A defeat or lack of performance could have a massively adverse affect.
Stoke, and Hughes, will begin to lose faith in those not in the first-choice XI, and succumbing to an atmosphere won’t bode well for the rest of the season.
It’s only the eleventh game of the season, but psychologically, there could be a lot riding on this one.