- West Ham v Stoke City, Premier League
Allardyce: Hammers & Stoke play their own way
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has defended the playing style of his own team and Stoke City as the two sides prepare to go head to head at Upton Park on Monday night.
Allardyce and Stoke boss Tony Pulis have a reputation for adopting a more direct, long ball game which is often criticised by the football purists - but it is a system which has brought results for both managers.
West Ham fans were sceptical about the appointment of Allardyce 18 months ago, with his approach to the game seen as the polar opposite of what the Hammers should stand for. But after winning promotion back into the Premier League at the first attempt through the play-offs, Allardyce's side could climb above Everton into fifth with a win over Stoke.
Pulis, meanwhile, has masterminded a fourth season in the Premier League for Stoke and this season they have the best defence in the division - joint with Manchester City - with 10 goals conceded.
While West Ham could move into a Europa League position, Stoke's record of drawing games - they have shared the points in six of their 11 Premier League matches and won only twice - means they sit 14th, just three points above Aston Villa in the relegation zone.
Allardyce told the Daily Mail about the tactics: "They are not the same. Mine are not the same as Tony's. I'm an individual. Nobody copies Sam Allardyce. I don't copy anybody else.
"We have the same philosophy in terms of we both want to defend well and make sure our team is organised and understand what's needed to be done in terms of game-plan. We both also have to maximise our resources to make sure that the club is successful.
"When you look at what Tony has done, Stoke fill their ground every week and have been doing so for years now.
"Tony Pulis' team are well drilled. They get the defensive side right, as I try to do. The improvement in quality of their players has made them an established Premier League side now.
"Tony probably thinks they are under-achieving. He had a more difficult start to the season than we did, so I'm sure they'll get back to winning ways, but I hope it's not [Monday]."
Asked about Allardyce's critics, Pulis - who has faced accusations himself of using a negative playing style to get results - said: "Each to their own.
"I don't think he pays too much attention to what people do or do not think. He gets the job done and he has done a wonderful job at West Ham.
"It was very difficult for him. They played in the Championship, were the top team in the Championship and everyone would have wanted to knock them off their pedestal.
"It is difficult when it is like that, but he got them promoted in one season and they have had a great start this year.''
West Ham player to watch: Andy Carroll has yet to really set the world alight since heading on loan to east London - but the prospect of a bruising battle with the likes of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth may give him the kick he needs to start finding the net regularly.
Stoke City player to watch: Pulis has been deeply impressed by Steven Nzonzi so far this season, and the physically-imposing midfielder will be asked to do much of his side's dirty work in this one.
Betting: This match pits two evenly-matched teams together - both in terms of quality and reputation for 'robust' play. As such, how about both sides to pick up the same number of bookings during the game, at 7/2 with bet365