Crystal Palace travel to Stoke this week after both teams suffered an opening weekend 1-0 defeats to Tottenham and Liverpool respectively and hope to overcome penalty kick heartache.
The departure of Tony Pulis during the summer caused many to believe a change of playing style would occur at Stoke this season, and whilst there were signs of keeping the possession better, the adaptation of style is set to be a patient one as Mark Hughes is wary of the damage a swift change could do to the team. A more attacking away performance than the Pulis era will be an encouragement to fans, but the same players that where an integral part of his team continued to struggle to score away from home – Stoke only scored 13 goals in away games last season. Despite hitting the woodwork and having a header cleared off the line, it’s evident that a goal scorer is needed at the Britannia Stadium after no Stoke player managed to reach double figures in the league last season – under 2.5 goals (1.694) seems a good bet.
During his previous spell in the Premier League Ian Holloway set up his Blackpool side with an emphasis on attacking and scoring more than their opponent, but the Crystal Palace team that played Tottenham last weekend didn’t offer the same threat. Holloway will hope this will improve over the course of the season, and after the introduction of Kevin Phillips and Marouane Chamakh there was a definite improvement in the attacking third. The lack of attacking presence is also linked to the deep, narrow defensive line that Palace employed as they tried to prevent Spurs taking advantage of the speed of their attacking players – this became more noticeable when Palace pushed for a goal late on and more space was available in their defensive third.
The approach at Stoke will most probably be different as these are the games that will be most important to Crystal Palace’s fight against relegation. The arrival of Jason Puncheon will add pace and width to the side, which will be important against a normally defensively solid Stoke team who were made to work hard last week against a Liverpool attack whose speed and guile resulted in top saves and last ditch tackles to prevent Liverpool from scoring more than the solitary goal.
Puncheon impressed for Southampton last season, which saw him sign a new 3 year contract in March, but the winger moves to Palace seeking first team football. Palace are looking to add more goals to their side and Puncheon offers that after scoring 6 goals for Southampton last season. The winger should add needed support from midfield in the attacking third, something that was lacking against Tottenham, and after making 105 crosses last season his link up play with Chamakh will be key to Palace’s attacking moves if they are to avoid the drop.
Against Liverpool last weekend, Peter Crouch played as the lone striker and was given the ability to roam across the defensive line. After the clear gaps in Crystal Palace’s defence when they pushed forward against Tottenham clever movement in the final third will be essential to utilise by Crouch, who is Stoke’s best chance of grabbing a goal.
The former England international was Stoke’s top goal scorer from open play last season and boasted a decent chance conversion rate of 19%. Crouch only had 36 shots in total however, a shot every 65 minutes, a result of direct play under Pulis which meant Crouch knocked down the ball for team mates rather than going for goal himself – Crouch created 33 chances last season, 4 of which resulted in a goal.
- Mark Hughes hasn’t been victorious as a manager in 14 games, with his last win a 1-0 home defeat of current side Stoke City on 6th May 2012.
- Last weekend’s penalty miss was Jonathan Walters’ third in his last 5 attempts.
- Crystal Palace lost possession 159 times in the first Premier League game of the season – 0.6 minutes per loss.
- The last fixture between the teams was in a FA Cup 3rd round replay in Janauary 2013 and finished 4-1 to Stoke.
With no new signings nor injuries to report on this week there is unlikely to be any changes to personal in the Stoke City starting XI.
New signing Jason Puncheon should come straight into the side, while Chamakh and Williams will be pushing for a start as Palace look to set up more attacking.
For more Premier League Season previews and odds visit Pinnacle Sports.