Depleted West Ham fail to find way past Stoke in goalless stalemate
Published 12/12/2015 | 17:03
Injury-hit West Ham could not find a way past stubborn Stoke in a goalless draw at Upton Park.
The Hammers dominated for long periods but sorely missed the attacking talents of Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini and Victor Moses in front of goal.
Boss Slaven Bilic, who has ordered the club to move training grounds in a bid to halt their injury jinx, almost saw his patched-up side pick up a first win in six matches, but Mauro Zarate's shot cannoned back off the post.
A draw was probably a fair result, though, as Stoke were also denied by the woodwork when Marko Arnautovic hit the crossbar midway through the second half.
It was Stoke who created the best two chances of an even first half and Marco van Ginkel, in for the injured Xherdan Shaqiri, should have given them the lead, only to miss a sitter.
Ibrahim Afellay's cut-back found the Dutch midfielder in front of goal, eight yards out, but he snatched at the shot and scuffed it wide.
After half an hour former Hammers full-back Glen Johnson raided down the right and put in a dangerous low cross which Arnautovic prodded the wrong side of the post.
For West Ham, Cheikhou Kouyate forced Jack Butland into a fine early save with a fierce 20-yard drive, while the England keeper also kept out efforts from Michail Antonio and James Collins.
The hosts felt they should have had a penalty just before half-time when Ryan Shawcross gave the ball away to Mark Noble and then pulled the West Ham skipper back in the area, but referee Andre Marriner was not interested.
Butland was back in action shortly after the break when he dived at full stretch to tip Andy Carroll's header around the post.
He then had to be quick off his line to block an effort from Antonio, making his first start for the Hammers, after he had raced onto a long ball over the top.
Stoke pressed for a winner too, and Hammers keeper Adrian did well to block Arnautovic's shot before the Austrian striker saw his free-kick take a massive deflection and bounce off the crossbar.
Adrian kept Stoke at bay again when he saved substitute Mame Biram Diouf's effort with his legs.
Ten minutes from the end Zarate waltzed across the Stoke penalty area before pinging an angled shot which finally beat Butland, only to crash off the outside of the post.
And in stoppage time a frantic goalmouth scramble saw Kouyate's header cleared from underneath the bar by Johnson to ensure it finished goalless.