The final week before football and turkey sandwiches will be impossible to escape, Stoke City travel to Crystal Palace with both teams having good results against the North London’s Premier League sides.
Since their victory over Liverpool, Crystal Palace have failed to win a match despite impressive performances against Swansea and Tottenham which could have seen wins rather draws. These performances will need to continue over the remainder of the calendar year with the fixture against Stoke followed by trips to Manchester City and QPR as well as the visit of Southampton.
Stoke ended a run of 3 straight defeats, which had seen them drop worrying close to the relegation area ahead of the festive period, last weekend with an extremely impressive win over Arsenal. It is their form against teams down the bottom of the league has caused them problems this season though – in 6 matches against teams in the bottom half Stoke only have 2 points, while in the matches 9 matches against teams in the top half of the Premier League Stoke have 16 points.
Crystal Palace have no new injury concerns ahead of the weekend and only Mariappa – who is nearly back from a knee injury – is unavailable for Neil Warnock.
Stoke enter the busy period with a number of injuries in the squad. Those who are likely to miss out on the trip to London are Muniesa, Arnautovic, Wilson, Sidwell, Moses, and Odemwingie.
The Australian captain has been a massive player, both metaphorically and literally, for Crystal Palace over the last few years as the club moved up the English tier. At the age of 30 though, this season has seen Jedinak reach new performance levels.
Despite taking penalties, Jedinak’s goal tally in recent years has never gone over 2 but this season he has improved that area of his game with 5 goals already making him Crystal Palace’s top goal scorer in the Premier League. His main influence on the team is his defensive cover in midfield with the Australian international making an average of 4.1 tackles and interceptions per match while making 3.1 clearances per match. With the physicality that Stoke bring to a match, despite their changing style of play, his steel in front of the back four and at corners will be important this weekend.
Since his surprise move to Stoke in the summer, it has taken time for Bojan to adjust to the physicality and speed of the Premier League as well as gelling with his team mates. There were glimpses of his ability against Tottenham with his directs run resulting in his first goal in England, and that was on show for the majority of the match last weekend. What also was impressive was the amount of times he dropped deep to allow his side to keep possession – unsurprising given his time developing at Barcelona – and was important to get the win.
Playing behind the striker allowed Bojan to roam from his position and find space between the Arsenal midfield and defence to exploit whether himself – his goal came from an expertly executed untracked run into the box, while his disallowed goal saw him come off the wing unchallenged – or his team mates where he created two chances from open play.
With Stoke having one of the tallest squads in Europe, the quality of set pieces can give them an advantage over their opponents. Against Arsenal, Bojan took 3 corners resulting in two chances created and successfully found a team mate with the other.
As previously noted in the key players section, the number of tackles made by Mile Jedinak is high. This not tells the ability of the player, but the workload he is having to do on a weekly basis and means the likelihood of committing more fouls is a reality. On average, Crystal Palace have made 13.9 fouls per match this season and this has seen 22 yellow cards picked up. With Bojan drifting past Arsenal defenders last weekend with ease, the Spanish forward is likely to draw a number of ill-timed tackles from defenders down the lower tier of the Premier League. Crystal Palace to pick up more yellow cards than Stoke City is valued at 2.18 with Tailorbet.
Last weekend at Tottenham was Crystal Palace’s first clean sheet in 9 matches.
Palace have scored 22 goals in their last 20 home matches, while Stoke have 19 goals in their last 20 away matches – high probability of a low scoring game.
Last season’s fixture between the pair saw the home side come out on top in both matches with Stoke winning 2-1 at the Britannia and Palace win 1-0 at Selhurst Park.
Stoke have failed to score in 8 of their last 20 league games, while Palace have failed to score in 6 of their 20 home fixtures – they have scored just the one goal in 9 matches as well.
Both teams will eye this game as a great opportunity to get 3 points, but with Stoke’s struggles against teams around them and Palace’s lack of a consistent goal scorer will see this match end in a score draw.
Crystal Palace 1 Stoke City 1