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Date & time Apr 2
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nfl
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West Ham will cap off an impressive season with a top-six finish if they beat Stoke at the Britannia on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Steven Baker . After coming from behind to win against Manchester United in midweek, the Hammers could pip United to fifth if they get a favour from Bournemouth on the final day.If the Cherries avoid defeat against United, then the Hammers could take advantage and move up up a place with victory. Manager Slaven Bilic hopes they can replicate the performance that saw them beat United 3-2 in their final game at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday.Stoke will want to finish on a high, but all we have to do is try to replicate the performance from Tuesday night and win the game, he said. That will give us minimum sixth and if Manchester United slip up, we can move to fifth. Jamie Redknapp joins Ed Chamberlin to preview all Sundays action in the Premier League While the Hammers are looking up the table, Stoke are in danger of finishing in the bottom half after a poor run of form over the last two months.Stoke have won just one of their last nine games and slip down to 11th if they lose to the Hammers and Swansea beat Manchester City. Team newsStoke midfielder Stephen Ireland is expected to be sidelined for eight or nine months after suffering a double leg fracture in training during the week.The Potters also have Ibrahim Afellay, Marc Wilson (both knee) and Jack Butland (ankle) unavailable. Shay Given could be back in goal for Stoke Sundays game could see Glen Johnson and Shay Given back involved after spells out with knee and groin problems respectively.Goalkeeper Adrian remains West Hams only absentee as he is still recovering from a calf problem, so Darren Randolph will continue to deputise. West Ham manager Slaven Bilic apologised after some fans threw bottles and other objects at Manchester Uniteds team bus on Monday Boss Slaven Bilic has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from.Opta statsStoke are unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches against West Ham (W2 D3).The Hammers have won just one of their six final day Premier League matches away from home (W1 D1 L4).Stoke have won none of their last four Premier League matches at the Britannia Stadium (D2 L2). Not beating West Ham would see them equal their longest run without a home win in the Premier League (five games September 2012). Stoke have slipped down the table after a poor run of form West Ham are unbeaten in their last five Premier League away games (W2 D3), scoring at least two goals in each of those matches.West Ham will finish the season with a positive goal difference (currently +15) for the first time in a top-flight campaign since 1985/86. Paul Mersons predictions See who the Magic Man is tipping to win on the final weekend The Hammers have already registered their best-ever points haul in a Premier League campaign (62, five more than their next best return of 57 in 1998/99).Austrian attacker Marko Arnautovic needs one goal to become Stokes outright top-scorer in a single Premier League campaign (currently level on 11 with Ricardo Fuller 08/09 and Mame Biram Diouf 14/15).Mersons predictionIm doing this game for Soccer Special and I think the Hammers will win. If they do they have a chance of finishing fifth and after all their hard work the other day, they will be keen to get another good result. Stoke have played some good football through the season but sometimes they are not as hard to beat as they used to be.They are good footballers and you are always going to get hot and cold when you get those kind of players. Some of them are luxury players and when they are hot they are hot and when they are cold they are cold.PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (15/2 with Sky Bet)BettingSky Bet offer 11/10 against the Hammers following up Tuesdays dramatic victory over Man United with another win at Stoke, with Mark Hughes hosts on offer at 9/4 and the draw priced at 5/2.West Hams last nine Premier League games have contained at least three goals and over 2.5 can be backed at 4/7 with Sky Bet. Shaun Bodiford .Y. - Major League Soccer is prepared to start its season this weekend even if there isnt a labour deal with its referees and other on-field officials. Chase Vaughn .C. - The Panthers will be without starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei for Saturday nights NFC divisional playoff game against Seattle after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a broken bone in his foot.ROGERS, Ark. -- Michelle Wie didnt let a little thing like a hectic national media tour slow the momentum following her U.S. Womens Open victory last week at Pinehurst. The former prodigy continued her resurgence on the LPGA Tour on Friday, shooting a 5-under 66 to finish a stroke behind leader Hamiltons Alena Sharp after the first round of the NW Arkansas Championship. Wie spent much of her week leading into the tournament busy on the national morning television circuit, only arriving at Pinnacle Country Club on Thursday. Following a practice round and 12 hours of much-needed sleep, the most recognizable name on the LPGA Tour shot a bogey-free 66 on the 6,375 yard layout -- closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th and upstaging local favourite Stacy Lewis. "Definitely running on fumes right now," Wie said. "... I think it definitely struck me on the back nine, a little bit tired, but I just was really excited to get out here and start playing again. New York was fun, but its just fun to get back to playing golf." Sharp, ranked 234th in the world, had only 27 putts in her opening 65, while Mexicos Alejandra Llaneza matched Wie with a bogey-free 66. The top-ranked Stacy Lewis, who played at the nearby University of Arkansas, was 2 over after four holes before recovering to finish with a 70. Ten players, including major champions So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng, shot 67. Sharp entered this week having missed the cut in six of her 11 LPGA Tour events this year, though she did win the Symetra Tours season-opening event in Arizona in February. She entered the week 137th on the LPGA Tour with an average of 31.34 putts per round, but she credited a recently putting lesson for Fridays improvement. "Im trusting it more and jusst trying to relax," Sharp said. Rip King. "Its been a part of my game that hasnt been the greatest this year. Ive hit a lot of greens and not making a lot of birdies, so today was definitely a step in the right direction." While Sharp controlled the leaderboard following the morning group, Wie overcame windy conditions to post the best round of the afternoon -- closing with a 4-under 31 on the back nine. She closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th and needed only 28 putts in her first round since earning her first major championship at Pinehurst. Wie, who was 64th on the LPGA Tour money list in 2012 and 41st last year, has yet to miss a cut this year and leads the money list with nearly $1.6 million. "I just feel comfortable out there, and Im trying to keep improving a little bit every day and still working on a lot of things," Wie said. Lewis earned an unofficial win in the rain-shortened event as an amateur in 2007, but the Texas native, who finished second to Wie in the Womens Open, struggled early on Friday -- much to the dismay of her large pro-Razorbacks gallery. She was 2 over after four holes, thanks to a missed 4-foot par putt on No. 2 and a bogey from the greenside bunker on No. 4. Lewis recovered with three birdies to finish 1 under, but she needed 31 putts on her way to settling for a tie for 43rd. "Its always hard playing here," Lewis said. "People, I dont think they realize how hard it is. Theres a lot of pressure, and its hard to not put too much pressure on yourself." European Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall also was in the group at 67 along with Jennifer Rosales, Moriya Jutanugarn, Emma Jandel, Gerina Piller, Ji Young Oh, Pornanong Phatlum and Paz Echeverria. ' ' '

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