Crystal Palace vs Stoke Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

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Crystal Palace welcome Stoke to Selhurst Park this Saturday afternoon as Roy Hodgson's men continue their battle against relegation, hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Everton.

Mark Hughes' side have had a steady but unspectacular start to the season, sitting in 15th place in the table, but looked decent in their Monday night draw away to Brighton. 

Fans of the Potters will be setting their sights much higher than 15th come the end of the season, so Saturday may be an opportunity for them to kickstart their campaign.

This weekend's encounter should be an enticing spectacle with goals aplenty, especially considering both side's last matches yielded four goals apiece, whilst Palace are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season. 

Here is everything you need to know ahead of this Saturday's crucial clash.

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Classic Encounter

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Crystal Palace 6-3 Stoke City

Andy Johnson struck a first half hat-trick as the Eagles beat the Potters 6-3 in a enthralling clash at Selhurst Park back in February 2004, taking his tally to a remarkable 24 for the season and his 18th in 16 games. 

The result put Palace within a point of the Division One play-offs - as it was called back then - and came courtesy of two penalties converted by Johnson. 

Stoke responded through a John Eustace free-kick and a goal from Clive Clarke to make it 3-2 before Michael Hughes headed in a fourth for Palace in first half stoppage time. 

Neil Shipperley further extended Palace's lead after the restart, before Carl Asaba converted the third penalty of the match to make it 5-3 to the home side. Wayne Routledge put the icing on the cake to make it 6-3 and ensure an emphatic win for the promotion chasers. 

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Key Battle

Andros Townsend vs Erik Pieters

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The former Tottenham winger has been in impressive form alongside Wilfried Zaha when utilised as a false striker, and although the stats don't show it, he has been a constant threat for opposition defences this season. 

Erik Pieters is always a solid performer for Hughes and has started every Premier League game for Stoke so far this term.

Considering Townsend usually operates on the right wing, Pieters may be tasked with shutting down the Englishman's service to the fit again Benteke, an outlet with could prove decisive to the final result. 

Given Zaha's free role up front, Pieters will need to be wary of the Ivory Coast international buzzing around near him and may have his work cut out in south London this Saturday. 

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Team News

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Hodgson can welcome back Benteke as a contender for his starting XI, with the Belgian only managing 15 minutes against Everton. Patrick van Aanholt is also nearing a return, whilst Chung-Yong Lee remains sidelined. 

Stoke still cannot call on Jack Butland who remains sidelined with a broken finger and Stephen Ireland is still unavailable although he is close to a comeback. Geoff Cameron is a doubt for the trip to Selhurst Park due to concussion. 

Both sides are coming off the back of 2-2 draws, so their defensive structures may be rejigged ahead of Saturday's clash, but for the neutral an enticing game should be expected. 

Potential Crystal Palace Lineup: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Sakho, Schlupp, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek, Milivojevic, Townsend, Benteke, Zaha


Potential Stoke City Lineup: Grant, Zouma, Shawcross, Wimmer, Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Ramadan

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Prediction

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Palace have been playing some good stuff in recent weeks but will need to start putting some points on the board if they want to keep their heads above water, as performances alone will not keep them up. 

Stoke, as aforementioned, have been steady but unspectacular and will be hoping to climb the table in the coming weeks as Christmas approaches, but may be discouraged having lost six of their last eight encounters against Palace.  

Hodgson's side really cannot afford another loss this weekend as they are already five points from safety and can't allow themselves to be cut adrift, especially if Swansea and West Ham pick up a result. 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke