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Preview: Stoke City vs. Crystal Palace

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between two teams seemingly in mid-table security as Stoke City entertain Crystal Palace at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke City and Crystal Palace will both be hoping to continue their good pre-international break form when they meet in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Potters recorded three consecutive wins for the first time this season before falling victim to the shrewd ways of former manager Tony Pulis last weekend.

Brown Ideye scored a 19th-minute opener for West Bromwich Albion, and Stoke could not break down the typically-organised hosts as they lost 1-0 at The Hawthorns.

Losing creative players in Victor Moses and Jonathan Walters to second-half injuries did not help their cause, but Stoke remain eighth in the table and primed for their most successful ever Premier League season.

Moses, who was playing for Palace the last time that they triumphed at the Britannia Stadium in 2008, is expected to be fit to feature against his old club, who have themselves won two out of their last three.

A comprehensive London derby victory over Queens Park Rangers took the Eagles eight points clear of the bottom three and manager Alan Pardew is confident that one more win would extinguish their relegation worries.

Wilfried Zaha opened his account for the season to start things off and defender Joel Ward ended an even longer goal drought to get in on the act with his first for the club since signing from Portsmouth in 2012.

Like fellow Selhurst Park academy graduate Moses, Zaha is an injury doubt for this weekend, although Pardew will give both he and Jason Puncheon as long as possible to prove their fitness for the trip to Staffordshire.

Definitely on a long list of Palace absentees are suspended captain Mile Jedinak, injured strikers Marouane Chamakh and Fraizer Campbell, as well as sidelined January signings Jordon Mutch and Lee Chung-yong.

Dwight Gayle is in line for a recall and could either be used out wide or as a strike partner to Glenn Murray. Alternatively, Ward might be moved into midfield and Pape Souare included at left-back if Puncheon is unfit.

Stoke have their fair share of injury concerns too, with Walters unlikely to be risked after fracturing his cheekbone. Philipp Wollscheid, Peter Odemwingie, Bojan and Marc Muniesa are all also on the treatment table.

Influential skipper Ryan Shawcross returned from his month-long layoff last time out and will continue alongside Marc Wilson in defence, while Mark Hughes is hopeful on the fitness of both left-back Erik Pieters and Moses.

December's reverse fixture between these two sides was drawn 1-1 as Peter Crouch quickly cancelled out James McArthur's 11th-minute opener.


Form in Premier League: DLWWWL
Form in all competitions: LLWWWL

Possible starting lineup: Begovic; Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Whelan; Moses, Adam, Arnautovic; Crouch


Form in Premier League: WDLWLW
Form in all competitions: DLLWLW

Possible starting lineup: Speroni; Kelly, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Puncheon, Ledley, McArthur, Bolasie; Gayle, Murray

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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