Six Premier League matches take place this afternoon and our first port of call is Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace play host to Stoke. It is at home where Roy Hodgson’s men have picked up all of their points this season not to mention all of their goals have been scored in front of their own fans.
That said they still find themselves bottom of the Premier League and will look to this burgeoning home form as the platform in which to try and get themselves out of the bottom three. With nothing in their account from away exploits it is these home encounters that are either going to make or break their season.
Ultimately they are going to have to start earning points on the road as they simply cannot rely on their home results to get them out of this fine mass, but that is an issue for another week as today the task in hand is trying to earn maximum points against Mark Hughes’s Stoke.
Last weekend the Eagles were home in the first of successive league encounters and were twice ahead against Everton only to be pegged back by David Unsworth’s side. You could argue that there was misfortune and mistakes in equal measures last Saturday as they failed to pick up their second win of the season.
The misfortune was the Penalty award for Everton which came after Oumar Niasse went to ground, he subsequently became the first player to be given a retrospective ban for diving but they only have themselves for the defensive lapse which saw the Senegalese forward score the goal which gave the Toffees a share of the points.
It was a share of the points that Stoke had to make do with on Monday night as they traveled to The AMEX to face Brighton. Like Palace twice they took the lead but twice they were pegged back by the newly promoted Seagulls, it was a point that saw them move up to the relative comfort of 15th in the table.
Kurt Zouma’s goal just before the break was Stoke’s sixth goal via the use of the head this season, the most of any of the Premier League teams at present and the Potters have found the net on 15 occasions after their first 12 games of the season.
That tally sees them as the second highest scorers of all the teams in the bottom half of the table but it is their defence which has undoubtedly let them down. They like Crystal Palace have conceded 24 goals this season, an average of two goals against per game.
Where Palace feel this more is the simple fact that they are averaging just 0.5 goals a game while Stoke fare better at 1.25. Stoke have a small buffer between themselves and the drop zone right now but at the same time they need to not just continue their unbeaten streak of three matches but ideally add more wins rather than draws.
Stoke have drawn their last two league outings by the same 2-2 scoreline so you cannot accuse them of not being entertaining but the question that needs to be asked is whether Stoke fans would rather see entertainment or results, and to be fair that is always a tough one to answer.
The club have certainly softened their approach but have perhaps lost that defensive steel that comes with, there is no doubt that they cannot keep conceding two goals a game in this division. Do that until the end of the season and they will end up with a record of 76 goals against.
On paper they have the personnel in which to keep opposition defences out but on the pitch there is something of a disconnect. The fact that both Crystal Palace and Stoke have conceded so many goals between would intimate that this will not end in a bore draw.
Truth be told I think Roy Hodgson’s men may well just win this match and earn just their second home win of the season, there are some glimpses of light for Palace but they need to make sure it starts to shine a lot brighter, that will come around with the kind of result that they should get today. Home win for me.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
Time for some Saturday scientific polls now
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) November 24, 2017