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Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City

Sports Mole previews Stoke's Premier League visit to Crystal Palace as the Potters go in search of consecutive wins for the first time this season at Selhurst Park.

Stoke City will be hoping to secure consecutive Premier League wins for the first time this season when they travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

The Potters ended a run of three straight defeats last weekend by beating Arsenal 3-2 thanks to first-half strikes from Peter Crouch, Bojan and Jonathan Walters.

They survived a late Gunners rally to hold on for a third victory over one of England's European elite this campaign, having previously knocked off champions Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

It is against teams at the other end of the table that they have struggled, with Aston Villa, Leicester City and Burnley all having already taken three points from what has previously been fortress Britannia Stadium.

This inconsistency explains why Mark Hughes's men sit only 13th in the table, and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic this week admitted that they need to start replicating their big-match displays on a weekly basis.

Palace very nearly followed Stoke in triumphing at White Hart Lane last Saturday. Jason Puncheon came the closest to breaking the deadlock when he struck the crossbar late in a goalless London derby.

Neil Warnock was baffled as to how his side had not won the game and admitted that they need to be more clinical in front of goal as they continue to go without the prolific striker who is on their January wishlist.

The 15th-placed Eagles have actually netted the second most goal of the teams in the bottom half of the table - 18 - but it is captain Mile Jedinak who leads the club's scoring charts with five league goals this term.

Puncheon, Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Marouane Chamakh have only four between them in 49 top-flight appearances, and so Fraizer Campbell could be restored this weekend to improve Palace's potency.

James McArthur is the most likely midfielder to be sacrificed in what could be an otherwise unchanged starting XI. Adrian Mariappa is still unavailable, and therefore Brede Hangeland will continue in defence.

Hughes will also stick with the majority of the players who produced what he described as the best performance during his time at the club, with Peter Crouch maintaining his place after his 20-second goal.

Peter Odemwingie, Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan, Steve Sidwell, Marko Arnautovic and former Palace winger Victor Moses are all injured for the Potters, but Robert Huth is slowly recovering towards full fitness.

The German, who has made 186 appearances for Stoke since joining in 2009, featured in the Premier League for the first time in over a year as a substitute against Arsenal, following a serious knee injury.

Hughes will be cautious with Huth's return, and so Marc Muniesa will again be asked to deputise at centre-back as the visitors go in search of a first top-flight win at Selhusrt Park since 1980.


Recent form: LLWDLD

Possible starting lineup: Speroni; Kelly, Dann, Hangeland, Ward; Zaha, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie; Chamakh, Campbell


Recent form: DWLLLW

Possible starting lineup: Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters; Cameron, N'Zonzi; Walters, Bojan, Diouf; Crouch

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2014
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