Our Premier League scribe takes a look at the betting for the Stoke versus Crystal Palace game.
What a year this is potentially turning out to be for Big Sam. In the wake of that ignominious exit of the English managerial role, one would have thought that a relegation battle in the Premier League would have done just the tonic for him. Following that 4-0 defeat to Sunderland, he’s probably wishing that he had taken a longer sabbatical. Stoke remain as enigmatic as ever, unable to string together consecutive victories. ou have to feel for Hughes, he’s clearly trying to implement a more grandiose vision at the club. But perhaps sometimes identities are there for a reason.
Stoke City v Crystal Palace | Saturday 11 February | Bet 365 Stadium | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Stoke 21/20 | Draw 9/4 | Palace 26/10
Johnson and Shaqiri both look likely to be fit following injury doubts. Stoke will still be without Cameron and Butland through long-term injuries, while Walters also remains sidelined with knee issues. One almost forgets that Stephen Ireland is a Stoke player, such has been the length of his injury. A rejuvenated Peter Crouch will feel that this porous Palace defence will afford him the opportunity to add to recent goal-scoring feats. Arnautovic will feel that his pace and physicality could do similar damage to that of Defoe last weekend.
Shaqiri could also prove vital in this match. Patrick Van Aanholt’s acquisition by Palace was supposedly going to shore up that leaky left-hand side. But his penchant for bulldozing forward could leave acres of space for the nimble footed Swiss Lilliputian. Similarly, Whelan and Adam will feel that they can dominate the middle of the park. Ledley and McArthur were embarrassingly overrun last week and Hughes will be instructing his side to take notice of that.
Where to start with that massacre last week. To sum it up, a fan was arrested after the game for confronting Ledley on the ground. Now, that type of hostile aggression should never be condoned… but you can kind of see what the chap was getting at. The way Ledley and McArthur were letting midfield runners ghost past them was criminal. Perhaps they felt Sunderland never posed enough of a tangible threat. It’s not really like an Allardyce side to underestimate an opponent.
Allardyce will hopefully give Hennessey some time to think about things on the bench following a series of weak performances between the sticks. Cabaye is likely to miss out, which means that Allardyce may have to persist with Ledley and McArthur in the heart of the midfield. Van Aanholt and Ward need to be mindful of their defensive responsibilities, especially the Dutchman. Van Aanholt’s first job is to ensure that Shaqiri doesn’t stray too far into their territory. One wonders just how much Zaha is going to be able to impose himself in the match this weekend.
Verdict: Stoke City 21/20
Lots of critics are pointing at the unrest at Leicester and wondering just how on earth they are going to extricate themselves from that situation. Palace are a side in chaos. They can’t defend, while their attacking players have no application in terms of dropping back to help. Stoke, despite their inconsistency, are well organised and should be able to pick apart a bedraggled looking side.
Written by Damien Kayat