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Stoke City vs Crystal Palace: Match Preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

Martyn Cooke

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Crystal Palace travel to North Staffordshire on Saturday stranded in the relegation zone with manager Sam Allardyce under increasing pressure to start picking up results.

The former England manager has failed to change the fortunes at Selhurst Park and The Eagles have won just one of the seven games that he has overseen in the Premier League. The spotlight was firmly focused on Allardyce after his side slumped to a heavy four-goal defeat against bottom of the table Sunderland on home soil and supporters will be looking for an immediate reaction this weekend.

Stoke City will be looking to get their season back on track after West Bromwich Albion ended their unbeaten start to 2017 in the Premier League. Mark Hughes’ side struggled to break through a resolute Albion defence and supporters will be hoping that their side will be able to secure a victory and maintain their current good run of form at the Bet365 Stadium. The Potters will also be looking to focus on the action on the pitch after much of the attention at The Hawthorns was directed towards controversial new signing Saido Berahino.

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Current Form

Stoke City have been ticking along nicely in the Premier League since the turn of the year. Prior to the defeat at West Bromwich Albion last weekend The Potters had picked up 8 points from the first four fixtures of 2017 which has seen them cement their place in the relative safety of mid-table. Mark Hughes’ side can produce scintillating football (such as the 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light in January) but are also capable of being offensively ineffective (such as the defeat at The Hawthorns). Stoke have also re-established the Bet365 Stadium as a fortress in recent months and have not lost a league contest on home soil since November.

The arrival of Sam Allardyce at Selhurst Park has failed to halt Crystal Palace’s slide towards relegation and The Eagles currently sit second-from-bottom of the Premier League. Last weekend they received a demoralising 4-0 defeat on home soil at the hands of struggling Sunderland which saw boos and jeers reign down from the stands. Palace have won just one league contest under Allardyce, a 2-0 victory against Bournemouth in January, and The Eagles have picked up just four points from the last 21 available.

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Team News

Xherdan Shaqiri is set to return to the Stoke City starting line-up after recovering from a calf strain that prevented the Swiss superstar from featuring in either of The Potters’ previous two Premier League features. The diminutive winger is set to replace Ibrahim Afellay who has been relatively unimpressive whilst filling in on the right wing for the past week. Glen Johnson could also return to the match day squad but will have to be content with a place amongst the substitutes due to Phil Bardsley’s solid recent performances at right-back. Jack Butland, Stephen Ireland, Jonathan Walters and Geoff Cameron are all long-term injury absentees whilst Mark Hughes will need to decide whether to hand new £12,000,000 signing Saido Berahino a first start after the 23-year-old made substitute appearances against Everton and West Bromwich Albion.

Sam Allardyce has a number of injury issues to contend with as he prepares his Crystal Palace team for the trip to the Bet365 Stadium. Pape Souare, Jonny Williams, Connor Wickham, Bakary Sako and Jordon Mutch will all be absent whilst Yohan Cabaye is also a slight doubt after limping off midway through the first half in The Eagles heavy home defeat last weekend. Big Sam could ring the changes following the dismal display against Sunderland and could hand starts to Loic Remy, Andros Townsend, Joe Ledley, and new signing Mamadou Sakho. Steve Mandanda is still out with a knee injury meaning that Wayne Hennessey will start in goal despite producing a poor performance against The Black Cats.

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Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Key Statistics

  • Stoke City have lost just one of their previous 10 Premier League fixtures at the Bet365 Stadium.
  • Crystal Palace have beaten Stoke City on each of the last five occasions that the two clubs have met in all competitions.
  • Sam Allardyce has only ever one once at the Bet365 Stadium – a 1-0 win in 2013 whilst in charge of West Ham United.
  • Christian Benteke has scored nine goals for Crystal Palace so far this campaign, only two players have ever reached double figures for The Eagles in the Premier League era (Chris Armstrong – 1992/93, and Andrew Johnson – 2004/05)
  • Stoke City’s new signing Saido Berahino has scored three goals against Crystal Palace in his career, against no other side has he scored more.

Key Player: Marko Arnautovic

The charismatic Austrian winger has proven to be one of Mark Hughes’ best signings since arriving in North Staffordshire in the summer of 2013. Strong, powerful, direct and skilful, Arnautovic has been a thorn in the side of Premier League opposition for the last three seasons and remains one of The Potters’ main attacking outlets. He has failed to hit replicate the superb form that he demonstrated last season, in which he scored twelve goals across all competitions, and has only found the back of the net on four occasions so far this term. However, ‘Arnie’ remains one of the most talented and effective wingers in the Premier League – if and when he chooses to do so.

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Match Prediction

Crystal Palace are desperate for points but it is hard to see them beating Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. The Potters have not lost on home soil since November and have been in good form since the turn of the year barring last weekend’s defeat at The Hawthorns whilst they could be boosted by the return of Xherdan Shaqiri from injury. Sam Allardyce will be keen to see a reaction from his players after the suffered a demoralising four-goal defeat against Sunderland but the confidence and belief amongst the current squad must be at an all-time low. Comfortable home win.

Predicted Score: Stoke City 2, Crystal Palace 0

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Crystal Palace

Ruben Loftus-Cheek deserves England start after Tunisia cameo

The 22-year-old proved the catalyst for England in his second-half cameo.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

England managed to get their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a win over Tunisia.

It wasn’t straightforward and they had to wait until stoppage time, but Harry Kane popped up at the crucial time to deliver three points.

Their next match is against Panama on Sunday and a win will almost certainly be enough to see them through to the next round.

Germany’s loss against Mexico means that it may be beneficial for the Three Lions to finish second in their group, but Gareth Southgate will be focused on qualifying first and foremost.

The performance from England was a refreshing one as the players looked to play in a positive manner and were confident in their ability to play out from the back.

There were some sketchy moments, but mistakes are part of the process and there is now real hope for a better future.

Southgate has put his faith in a lot of younger players and one made an impact on Monday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a surprise selection, but the midfielder was brought on against Tunisia and he had a positive impact.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

England looked like they were tiring and it was important that Southgate made the necessary changes to get a win.

It was a risk to bring on the 22-year-old considering his lack of experience, but he provided dynamism in the centre of the park when it was required.

During his short time on the pitch, he looked to be aggressive in his movement and managed to break free in the final third on a couple of occasions.

He completed one dribble and won his only aerial duel. Loftus-Cheek had a breakthrough season with Crystal Palace and he could emerge as one of the breakout stars of the competition if he continues to play in a positive manner.

At times, England looked lightweight and lacking ideas in the middle of the park.

Dele Alli was a shadow of his usual self and appeared to be carrying a knock. He managed to produce one key pass, but his influence was limited.

Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard offered threatening movement, but his final ball was poor. He had a number of chances in the final third and none of them resulted in a goal.

Although he was only on the pitch for roughly ten minutes, Loftus-Cheek provided athleticism and drive that the team were previously lacking.

All of his contributions were made with the right intentions and he seemed to grow on the world stage.

It would have been easy for the midfielder to come on and play it safe. He didn’t do that and Southgate would have been encouraged by that.

Panama is a game that England should be targeting for three points. Southgate saw that his chosen formation worked against Tunisia, but there could be a change of players that makes it more effective.

Loftus-Cheek has to be one of the players lined up for a start for either Lingard or Alli. There is an opportunity for experimentation and if the 22-year-old can deliver over ninety minutes, it could be a sign of what is to come this summer.

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Crystal Palace

West Ham round up: Lucasz Fabianksi, Issa Diop in next 24 hours, Roma enter race for Javier Pastore

A round-up of the day’s most interesting news surrounding West Ham.

Jamie Watts

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Double unveiling in next 24 hours?

West Ham have been negotiating deals for Swansea City goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski and Toulouse centre-back Issa Diop for over a week now, and the Evening Standard are reporting that a double unveiling is imminent in the next 24 hours.

Manuel Pellegrini is set to encore the signing of Fulham fullback Ryan Fredericks with the Poland goalkeeper, having agreed a three-year deal, with £7 million going to the recently relegated Swans. The delay is said to be due to the 33-year-old’s inclusion in his nations clash with Senegal today.

Diop has reportedly completed his medical in London yesterday, despite interest from the likes of Everton and Sevilla, with RMC Sport claiming the player will sign a five-year deal at the London Stadium, tying him until the club until 2033 for a fee of around £22 million.

Photo: Getty Images

Pastore falling through?

Pellegrini had expressed an interest in signing Paris Saint Germain want-away Javier Pastore earlier this month, but talks have stalled over constant financial issues and it now appears Italian giants Roma are keen to move in, according to ESPN.

Sky Sports Italy are suggesting that Roma is the more appealing option to the 28-year-old, and are even claiming that the Argentine’s agent Marcelo Simonian has flown to Italy and has agreed a £24 million deal for a four-year contract, with the option to extend another year in the capital.

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Antonio to Palace?

Crystal Palace could make a move for West Ham winger Michail Antonio this summer as they look to add more firepower to their squad after securing Premier League survival.

According to the Daily Mirror, Antonio has been told he is not part of the Hammers’ long-term plans under the new management of Pellegrini and is set to leave.

The Hammers are apparently open to offers and it is suggested that Palace might face stiff competition for a player who has scored 20 goals in 76 Premier League appearances.

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Arsenal

Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable. Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season. And he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

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Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account. And it now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

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And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank. It’s safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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