The FourFourTwo Preview: Stoke vs Crystal Palace
The season’s first relegation six-pointer.
The first ever Premier League meeting between these clubs promises a bit of a dogfight even at this early stage. With both teams expected to be in the mix down at the bottom come May, the points won or lost here might really matter nine months from now.
Both teams lost their opening game to a single goal but the narrow margin of defeat served only to paper over the cracks. At Anfield, Stoke conceded possession and territory to Liverpool, allowing an alarming 25 shots on their goal, including 11 on target. That they came away cursing Jon Walters’ fifth penalty miss for depriving them of a point was primarily down to man of the match Asmir Begovic’s inspired goalkeeping, as he recorded a weekend high 10 saves.
Palace's rigid defence stifled Spurs in Sunday's season opener at Selhurst Park, but Ian Holloway will be concerned that his side only briefly had their more illustrious visitors worried at the other end.
So to Mark Hughes' first home league game in charge of Stoke. After four defeats in their last six home games was enough to see off Tony Pulis, the Potters will be keen to rebuild fortress Britannia where they were unbeaten from August to January last season.
Last five meetings
- Stoke 4-1 Palace (FA Cup, Jan 13)
- Palace 0-0 Stoke (FA Cup, Jan 13)
- Stoke 1-2 Palace (C'ship, Apr 08)
- Palace 1-3 Stoke (C'ship, Oct 07)
- Stoke 2-1 Palace (C'ship, Apr 07)
Brek Shea (leg) and Wilson Palacios (illness) will both definitely miss out for the hosts.
Jonathan Parr is unlikely to be fit enough to face the Potters, with Yannick Bolasie (hamstring), Jerome Thomas (ankle) and Glenn Murray (knee) also sidelined for Ian Holloway's men.
Player to watch: Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace)
With Wilfried Zaha gone and Glenn Murray a long-term injury absentee, Palace need to find goals from somewhere and the burden falls on Gayle, a summer signing from Peterborough, where he notched 13 times last season.
Just two seasons ago, the 23-year-old was turning out for Bishop’s Stortford and his performance against Spurs suggests he has much to do to make an impact at this level. Not only was he a peripheral figure, but as his Stats Zone screen shows, he was all over the place. As the team’s attacking spearhead, Gayle must do more work in and around the Stoke penalty area.
Given his team should enjoy more possession at the Britannia than they did against Tottenham, he should get more of a chance to show his worth this time around.
Hughes thinks we all want him to do well this season, which is of course true unless you're anything other than a Stoke fan. The notoriously slow starter watched Simon Mignolet dash his hopes and dreams at Anfield last weekend - so things can only get better for Sparky from here on in.
Holloway, meanwhile, has already played his 'little old us' card after Palace's defeat to Spurs, and was subsequently charged by the FA for his petulant protest. The wise-cracking Bristolian has only faced Hughes twice, going down 3-0 against his opposite number's Fulham side in 2010/11 after a 2-2 draw at Bloomfield Road.
Facts and figures
- Stoke City have scored just three goals in their last six home games in the Premier League.
- Crystal Palace picked up just 35% (25 of 72) of their Championship points last season away from home.
- Asmir Begovic was forced in to making the most saves in the Premier League on the opening weekend (10); also equalling his record tally in a PL appearance.
- Stoke allowed Liverpool 11 shots on target in their game last weekend. The Potters have not allowed their opponents more than this in a single Premier League game since April 2010.
- Crystal Palace have won just two of their previous 19 Premier League games in the month of August (W2 D7 L10).
- Jonathan Walters has started 92 consecutive Premier League games for Stoke City, the current record for outfield players in the competition.
- Walters netted two goals in Stoke's 4-1 win over Crystal Palace in their FA Cup replay match back in January.
- Stoke City have won four and lost just one of their last six competitive meetings with Crystal Palace (D1).
- Crystal Palace have not won a Premier League away game since October 30th 2004, losing eight and drawing five of their road trips since.
- Mark Hughes has not won a game in the Premier League as a manager since May 6th 2012, losing 10 and drawing four of his 14 games in the competition since.
Stoke will be too strong for Palace, in more ways than one. 2-0.