Stoke 2.526/4 v Crystal Palace 3.39/4; The Draw 3.39/4
The Potters weren't at their offensive best last weekend at West Ham, but the defensive performance was something special to deliver an entirely deserved sixth clean sheet in seven games (and also their sixth in seven on the road).
Somehow they still aren't quite in the top half, being kept behind tenth-placed Everton on goal difference, yet it seems like a mere matter of time: they have lost just two league outings in 11, winning six in ten, and the gap to Tottenham in fifth is a slender three points.
Shay Given and Peter Crouch are out, with Greg Cameron and Xherdan Shaqiri doubts, though given the manner that Stoke's attacking players often appear to take turns to step up, the Swiss winger's absence needn't be an ambition-restrictor.
This writer has always been more confident in Stoke's top-half potential than Crystal Palace's, but the Eagles have certainly done a fine job in the short term of making the latter prediction look misguided.
In typical streaky Alan Pardew fashion, they have collected seven points from an available nine since that prospects-questioning piece was published to climb from tenth to sixth, a dream-inviting three points shy of the Champions League qualification pace.
Those results were all achieved without a goal from a conventional centre forward, in what is fast becoming the Palace way, and Dwight Gayle won't have a chance to amend that due to injury. Bakary Sako won't be fit either, while Joe Ledley and Mile Jedinak are at risk of missing out too.
Picking a winner in this contest is a tricky task. The Londoners are a constant menace on their travels under Pardew, triumphing in a rather exceptional ten of their last 15 league fixtures, whereas Stoke are nowhere near as reliant on home form as they were when they first landed in the Premier League, accumulating points at a greater rate away than at the Britannia Stadium this season.
However, their record as hosts has improved notably in the past month, with three successive victories obtained without conceding in all competitions. Oh, and two of those arrived against Chelsea and Man City. It would have been four were it not for Loic Remy's 90th-minute intervention for the champions in the Capital One Cup tie which preceded those.
So this columnist leans slightly towards the Potters at 2.526/4 - especially as their guests are on a current P5 W2 D1 L2 road run which would be stellar by most clubs' standards, but represents a dip from their usual level - though there are even more compelling options offered in other markets...
Under 2.5 Goals
There surely can't be a more statistically sound bet for this match than under 2.5 goals at 1.75/7. Stoke have paid out on wagers of this nature more often than any other Premier League side in 2015/16, doing so in 13 of their 16 encounters, with their goal-per-game rate of 1.69 also a low.
That number has been dropping since Ryan Shawcross' return in October rather than increasing, with Mark Hughes' men on a massive 11-fixture unders streak in all competitions right now.
Having experimented with high-scoring fare in August, Palace eventually adopted the same formula: nine of their most recent dozen league showdowns finished with two goals or fewer scored.
Back under 2.5 goals @ 1.75/7
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