Avram Grant, who has revitalised West Ham after a torrid start to their league campaign, will be on a mission to preserve his remarkable record in English cup competitions against Stoke tomorrow. Grant may still be charged with the task of saving the Hammers from dropping into the Championship but his past achievements in a knock-out situation suggest this season may not be the write-off it was once feared.
The Israeli reached the UEFA Champions League Final and League Cup final with Chelsea while he was at Wembley last year for the FA Cup final with Portsmouth. He also has an unbeaten record against Stoke this season after three meetings already, including a resounding 3-0 win in London last weekend.
Grant's hopes of dispatching Stoke again in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final look set to be boosted by the return to fitness of Robbie Keane, who is expected to recover from a calf injury and take his place on the bench. But Hammers defender Matthew Upson is still predicting a difficult afternoon at the Britannia Stadium, one of the most unforgiving venues in the country.
"It's going to be a very different game from last Saturday. They're going to be really pumped up and come at us," Upson said. "It's up to us to deal with that and, again, be brave on the ball and pass the ball and move the ball - I'm really looking forward to it."
Stoke may be the second oldest club in the country but have never contested a place in the final of this competition. However the chance to play at Wembley, for the first time in a major game since their famous League Cup victory over Dave Sexton's Chelsea in 1972, will guarantee a bouncing Britannia Stadium.
Thomas Sorensen will start in place of Asmir Begovic after appearing in every round of the competition so far. And Denmark international Sorensen is expected to sign a new two-year contract with the Potters despite playing second fiddle to Begovic for the majority of the season.
"Thomas has been talking to the club and we are set to announce something in the next few days," Pulis said. "Thomas has played all in the FA Cup games and if we were fortunate enough to beat West Ham on Sunday then Thomas would play at Wembley - but we've got to get there first.
"This will be a difficult game - Avram has got a great cup record, which is not what I want going into this game on Sunday."