Crystal Palace v Stoke: Back Christian Benteke to pile more misery on Potters

Christian Benteke is the man to watch for Palace
Christian Benteke is the man to watch for Palace
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Jack Lang feels the Eagles will have the confidence to beat Mark Hughes' side in front of the Sky cameras at Selhurst Park this Sunday...


"Christian Benteke opened his account for Palace at Middlesbrough and, if he can remain fit, will provide the reliable focal point Palace have long needed in attack"

Crystal Palace v Stoke City
Sunday, 14:15
Live on Sky Sports 1


Crystal Palace

What a difference one game makes. All was doom and gloom at Selhurst Park a week ago, Crystal Palace having claimed just one point from their opening three Premier League assignments. There had been a League Cup success over Bournemouth, sure, but the failure to beat West Brom (0-1) and the Cherries (1-1) an home soil did not seem to bode well for the season ahead.

There remain concerns, but the victory over Middlesbrough - unbeaten up to that point - has restored a bit of normality in south London, easing the pressure on Alan Pardew in the process. Now, they have the chance to double down and move into the top half of the table.

Yohan Cabaye looks set to miss out again for the Eagles, but the impact of that will be softened by the blossoming of a new talisman last weekend: Christian Benteke opened his account for the club and, if he can remain fit, will provide the reliable focal point Palace have long needed in attack. Wilfried Zaha certainly seemed to enjoy playing with the Belgian at the Riverside.


Stoke

The outlook is less positive for struggling Stoke, who go into the weekend occupying 20th position on the back of three straight league defeats. They lost the plot in the second half against Tottenham, crumbling at the back after Mark Hughes was sent to the stands.

There is clearly plenty of talent in the squad, but high-profile summer signings - Wilfried Bony, Bruno Martins Indi, Joe Allen - will take some time to bed in properly and Jack Butland's injury has clearly unsettled the backline. Shay Given is no longer good enough to start in goal for a side with European aspirations.

Hughes has confirmed that Xherdan Shaqiri will miss out again here, although Glen Johnson and Mame Biram Diouf could be in line for returns. At the moment, any good news is welcome: this is Stoke City's lowest points tally after four games of a Premier League season and alarm bells will be starting to ring.


Match Odds

Given the relative parity between the status of these sides over the last few years, it is perhaps surprising that Palace have dominated the recent head-to-head: the Londoners have won five of the last six meetings, including both Premier League matches and an FA Cup tie last term.

Palace are not the easiest side to have faith in, but that run, coupled with the likelihood that their tails will be up after the Middlesbrough result, gives the home win most appeal in the outright market at 2.0421/20.

Not only are Stoke still looking for their first win; they are the only Premier League side this season yet to lead a game. Little surprise, then, to find them as long as 4.216/5 to come out on top here.


Half-time/Full-time

Palace's first two games (0-1 to West Brom, 0-1 to Spurs) were goalless at the break. They were losing to Bournemouth at the interval before salvaging a point, and were 1-1 with Middlesbrough before finding a winner. This suggests that they are relatively slow starters.

Stoke have conceded in the first half in three of their four games, but there has been a definite tightening-up despite the poor run of results: they kept Everton out in the first half at Goodison Park and held on until just before the break against Tottenham.

If you lean towards the hosts to pick up a victory, then, Draw/Palace would be a reasonable option at 5.49/2.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Only one of Palace's five games in all competitions has produced three goals or more and they certainly have the hallmarks of an unders team. But Stoke, with their atypically loose defence and attack that could click at any moment, are harder to predict at the moment. Unders looks a touch more appealing at 1.748/11, but this could be one market to avoid.


To Score

He had a miserable time at Liverpool, but Benteke remains a striker capable of plundering bags of goals in the Premier League when playing in a system that suits his skill set.

At Palace, the ingredients are in place: Zaha will get to the byline on a regular basis and put balls into the box, Jason Puncheon and Cabaye will provide quality service from dead balls and Pardew should play him every week.

Benteke's strike against Middlesbrough made it four goals and an assist in his last eight Premier League appearances - despite playing just 444 minutes. 2.789/5 looks good value against what is, for now, the league's worst defence.


Ref Watch

Craig Pawson is the man in the middle at Selhurst, taking charge of his third Premier League match of the season. He has been quite sharp on dissent so far - just ask Bournemouth's Harry Arter, who received his marching orders from Pawson in the game against West Ham - and booked Zaha for some off-the-ball funny business against West Brom.


Recommended Bets
Back Crystal Palace at 2.0421/20
Back Christian Benteke to score at 2.789/5

Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2016/17

Staked: 4pts
Returned: 5.5pts
P/L: + 1.5pts

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