We take a look at tomorrow afternoon’s trip to Selhurst Park, as Stoke City aim to get off to winning ways after a torrid start to the season.
Crystal Palace vs Stoke City
Competition: Premier League
Date: Sunday 18th September 2016
KO Time: 14:15pm
Venue: Selhurst Park, Croydon.
Latest betting odds (bet365):
Crystal Palace: 21/20
Stoke City: 3/1
Our prediction: Stoke to win, and BTTS: 7/1
Long-shot: Wilfried Bony to score anytime, and Stoke to win 1-2 – 30/1
The Eagles have lift off. Crystal Palace who ended last season, and started similarly to Stoke this campaign, finally found their first win of the season last Saturday, as goals from summer signing Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha were enough to see off Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
Zaha, who was heavily linked to Spurs towards the back end of the window notched his first goal since November 2015 as Palace earned their first away win of the calendar year.
No Remy? No problem.
Christian Benteke showed just why Palace splashed out over £30 million on him over the summer as he scored a trademark header set up by the aforementioned, Zaha. Having conceded NINE goals in their last three league games, Benteke will look to terrorise a very shaky Stoke defence on an afternoon where Palace could put a little bit of breathing space between them and the bottom 5/6.
Alan Pardew will be without Loic Remy, Yohan Cabaye and of course Pape Souare, who was involved in an horrific car incident last week, and suffered a suspected broken thigh. Everyone involved with Stoke City wishes him a speedy recovery, and were delighted to hear that it was nothing fatal.
Connor Wickham is also a doubt for Palace, something which will be music to the ears of the Stoke defence, having been somewhat of a bogey player over recent times.
What the manager has said:
AP: “We had tight games, particularly at their place last season. It could have gone either way. We all know the margins are so fine in the Premier League. The difference between the two sides is minimal.”
Crystal Palace Predicted XI:
Mandanda; Kelly, Dann, Tomkins, Ward; Ledley, McArthur; Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend; Benteke.
If the Eagles have lift off for the season, the Potters certainly don’t as of yet. Another four goal hammering in front of our own fans proved hard viewing as once again Mark Hughes’ side hasn’t started well.
Having mirrored last season’s score against Spurs, the stats were not good reading for Stoke fans. For a team who are notoriously solid at the back, Stoke City have now conceded 4+ goals in five, yes, FIVE out of their last ten Premier League games.
Tomorrow, Stoke travel to somewhat of a bogey ground, against a bogey team for them. Stoke have not beaten Crystal Palace since Mark Hughes’ debut at the Britannia (as it was named back then) in 2013.
Hughes will be further frustrated by the absence of winger Xherdan Shaqiri who is set to miss out once again for the Potters.
If Stoke are to turn around their form this season, they need to ditch the three-man midfield that has been deployed for the vast majority of the season. At first, I thought it would be great for Stoke, but it’s clear to everyone that Glenn Whelan, Joe Allen and Giannelli Imbula aren’t comfortable playing in that system.
There were several times in last week’s game where Imbula would have to push on forward to try and help out Wilfried Bony, (who was isolated for much of the match) leaving several gaps in the midfield.
The introduction of Bojan Krkic back into that hole behind Bony in attack will allow Stoke to really solidify the midfield behind him, and if Mark Bowen’s comments about working on their defensive shape is true, they could easily gain their first win of the season tomorrow.
It’s worth noting it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom at Stoke just yet. Although it’s not great reading, Stoke have had an horrendous run of fixtures, and if Stoke can snatch a win at Selhurst Park tomorrow, the upcoming fixtures look more than winnable for Stoke, and it could be a huge catalyst for a good season for the Potters.
Mame Diouf is expected to return for Stoke, as long-term absentees, Jack Butland, Ibrahim Afellay and Stephen Ireland are ruled out of the trip, whilst Xherdan Shaqiri won’t be up to scratch for a few weeks yet.
Glen Johnson will be a very welcome addition back in to the Stoke City squad, as the right-back is expected to start for Stoke tomorrow, so Hughes will be hoping Johnson can add to his impressive debut season at Stoke City.
What the manager has said:
MH: “We’ve got a number of players who maybe aren’t at the level we know they’re capable of, and at the level we play at, you need at least 8/9 players playing at the top of their level to be able to get results in the Premier League.”
Stoke City Predicted XI:
Given; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Allen, Whelan; Arnautovic, Bojan, Diouf; Bony.