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Stoke City will travel to face bottom-placed Crystal Palace on Saturday and the Potters will look to pick up 3 points from the clash. Stoke are at 15th place with 13 points, and a win will be necessary for them to steady themselves in the league. The upcoming few weeks can make or break the fortunes of a lot of teams and Mark Hughes’ men will hope to avoid that.
Stoke are actually unbeaten in their last 3 games. They managed to secure a win against Watford, followed by back-to-back draws against Leicester City and Brighton. On both occasions, Stoke lost despite scoring 2 goals and they will look to ensure that does not happen again on Saturday.
Jack Butland continues to be out for Stoke after breaking his finger while on international duty for England. Not having the goalkeeper certainly caused some vulnerability against Brighton and the same could happen against Palace if they don’t tighten their defence. Besides that, Hughes has no fresh injury concerns as per early team news.
Lee Grant (GK)
Grant allowed 2 goals to be scored in their previous match against Brighton and Stoke were lucky enough to have secured a point. However, with Butland likely to be sidelined until Christmas, Grant will have to pull his socks up and the match against Palace will provide him with a better opportunity for improvement.
Kevin Wimmer (CB)
Wimmer has settled in quite well with Stoke and put in particularly impressive displays against Brighton and Leicester City, making it possible for Hughes to deploy him in his usual role.
Ryan Shawcross (CB)
Shawcross continues to be a solid presence for Stoke at the back but there is room for improvement. Shawcross is an important figure for Stoke and will continue to be so in this game as well.
Kurt Zouma (CB)
The former Chelsea man has done quite well for Stoke and if they are to secure 3 points over the weekend, Hughes must hand him a starting role.
Erik Pieters (LWB)
Pieters has not been at his best for Stoke this season but he did show signs of improvement against Brighton and could start once more for the side.
Mame Diouf (RWB)
Diouf is being effectively moulded into a right wing-back but he needs more time before he can be good enough since that is not his natural role. However, Hughes is trying to make things work and Diouf is also putting in his best.
Darren Fletcher (CM)
Having scored his first goal for Stoke, against Watford, Fletcher has been doing quite well of late which should see him earn a starting spot on Saturday as well.
Joe Allen (CM)
Fletcher will be joined by Allen in the heart of Stoke’s midfield. Considering how poor Palace have been so far, Allen should be able to provide better dominance owing to his experience, making it likely for Hughes to give him a start.
Ramadan Sobhi (LW)
Often dubbed as a work in progress, Sobhi made a dismal start to the season but he seemed quite encouraging against Brighton as he lasted the entire 90 minutes. Hence, Hughes is likely to help him maintain the momentum by including him in the starting lineup against Palace too.
Xherdan Shaqiri (RW)
Although Shaqiri was substituted during the Brighton match as a preventive measure for a potential injury, the winger is likely to start against Palace since his power up front will be crucial in dismantling the opposition.
Eric Choupo-Moting (CF)
The forward is likely to relish the thought of going up against Palace, who have been defensively weak so far. Hence, it is possible that Hughes might hand him a start.