This weekend has already seen some eye-catching and surprising results – West Brom’s win over Chelsea might have been a reward for form this season, but few would have bet on it, and Sunderland’s victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage came well out of the blue, considering their shyness in front of goal so far this term. But one result that perhaps wouldn’t be so surprising would be a victory tonight for Sam Allardyce’s West Ham at home against

Say what you want about Big Sam – and Newcastle fans tend to have a lot to say – but he knows how to get results for his West Ham team, and regardless of how his own fans might have felt about his style of play last season, you get the feeling that few Hammers fans will complain if Sam leads their team into the top five after the game against Stoke at the Boleyn tonight.

So, why should West Ham fans be confident?

Judging by their performances so far this season, there are good signs that the team will flourish this season – they are disciplined, hard-working and well organised in defence, and in Kevin Nolan they have a goal-scoring midfielder who will continue to defy his doubters.

Here are six ways West Ham can kick on and beat Stoke tonight.

1. Remain Tight At The Back

Key to West Ham’s progress this season has been their defensive discipline, and an enviable record at the back that has seen them conceding at a rate only better by last season’s champions, Man City.

And that defensive record is currently even more important considering the team’s comparative lack of bite in front of goal: they are currently the lowest scoring team in the top 11, and 19th placed Southampton have managed four more goals than them in the league so far this season. While Andy Carroll’s loan signing was a big deal for Hammers fans and showed a statement of intent for the direction the club’s owners want to go in, the big England man has so far failed to find the net, and with his fellow strikers failing to take the league by storm, it falls to the defence to keep it tight to protect their lofty position.

Luckily for Allardyce, Stoke aren’t exactly famed for their own high-scoring games, having only scored 9 goals so far this year, but West Ham will still have to remain as vigilant as possible, and hope that James Tomkins has as good a game as he did against Newcastle last weekend once more.

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This article was first posted on November 19, 2012