After finally getting off the mark in 2016/17 away at Middlesbrough in Matchday 4, Alan Pardew and Crystal Palace will be looking to get their home form back on track as they welcome Mark Hughes’ Stoke City to Selhurst Park.
The Potters have taken only one point from their opening four Premier League games and sit rock bottom of the Premier League, Hughes therefore will be under no illusions as to the importance of gaining something from South London on Sunday to really kick-start their season.
Palace meanwhile are 11th, with their points amassed from last week’s win and a draw at home to Bournemouth. Although an early season encounter, this may turn out to be a real six-pointer at the end of the season between two sides desperate to retain their Premier League status for yet another year.
After back-to-back league defeats to West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur, with an EFL Cup win over Blackpool sandwiched in the middle, Alan Pardew’s Eagles have kick-started their league campaign in the last fortnight, registering their first point in a 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth, before a superb 2-1 win at Middlesbrough last week. Palace are also unbeaten in their last six meetings with the Potters, winning five and drawing once.
Mark Hughes’ Stoke City have thus far been unable to stop the rot towards the end of 2015/16 and have started their latest Premier League campaign in similarly poor fashion. Their sole point so far came from a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough on the opening day, and they have since suffered back-to-back 4-0 home defeats to Manchester City and most recently Tottenham Hotspur, and a 1-0 defeat at Everton on the road. Their away form therefore is faring slightly better as far as this season is concerned, which is also backed up by their 4-0 EFL Cup victory away at League Two club Stevenage.
Selhurst Park however has not been a happy hunting ground for the Potters of late, Stoke having not tasted victory on any of their last five visits to South London (D2, L3). Hughes’ Potters will therefore have to defy the omens if they are to kick-start their campaign this weekend.
Alan Pardew is expected to keep faith with the same starting XI that performed so well at Middlesbrough, Steve Mandanda once again getting the nod in goal with Joel Ward, Damien Delaney, captain Scott Dann and Martin Kelly making up the back-four. Jason Puncheon, Joe Ledley and James McArthur are likely to make up a three-man midfield, with Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha making up the front three for the home side.
After seeing his side ship four goals at home to Spurs last week, Mark Hughes is expected to make some changes to his defence. Shay Given should remain in goal, whilst Phil Bardsley could come in for Geoff Cameron at right-back after the American had a torrid time against Son Heung-Min last week. Bruno Martins Indi is expected to keep his place alongside Ryan Shawcross in central defence with Eric Pieters at left-back.
After some ineffective performances over the opening weeks, Giannelli Imbula could face the axe in place of Bojan, who could play behind a front-three of Jonathan Walters, Wilfried Bony and Marko Arnautovic with Joe Allen and Glenn Whelan playing deeper-lying midfield roles.
Crystal Palace predicted starting XI Stoke City predicted starting XI
Crystal Palace have four on the injury list heading into their clash with the Potters, Pape Souaré the latest to be on the sidelines after undergoing surgery for injuries he sustained in a traffic accident. The others already occupying the treatment room are Yohan Cabaye who has aggravated a groin strain, and forwards Loic Remy and Fraizer Campbell who both have hamstring problems.
Stoke City are missing five of their personnel ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park, the clash coming a little too soon for Xherdan Shaqiri who is recovering from a calf injury, and right-back Glen Johnson who has a thigh strain. Jack Butland, Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay are all long term absentees.
Butland is expected to be back in action in November, whilst Ireland and Afellay are not expected to feature until the New Year.
Crystal Palace have a very good record against Sunday’s opposition, and with the Potters still missing the creativity of Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri through injury, they are expected to struggle in South London again. Stoke’s recovery may start next week against West Bromwich Albion, but with Pardew’s Palace riding a wave of momentum following their win over Middlesbrough last week, they should at home have too much for a Stoke side whose record at Palace is unenviable.
Christian Benteke can be expected to find some joy in amongst an off-colour Potters defence, although Palace have had defensive frailties of their own this season from which the likes of Wilfried Bony may well capitalise. A repeat score of last year’s result in this fixture; Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke City, is our call.
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