A game that will play a massive part in determining which teams are relegated this season will be taking place at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as Stoke City take on Crystal Palace.
The Eagles are almost certainly safe from the drop now after a run of four straight games without defeat has taken them six points above the drop zone with two games to go.
Meanwhile, it’s worrying times at Stoke as three straight draws has kept them three points adrift of safety. This weekend’s clash is a must win for the Potters, with their place in the Premier League next season likely to be decided when they play Swansea on the final day.
Here’s the rundown of Saturday’s clash:
Stoke City’s recent record against Crystal Palace is not strong, so they will have to look back a few years to remember the last time they got a convincing result against the Eagles. One such rare occasion came in January 2013 where the Potters won 4-1 against Palace in a FA Cup third round replay.
It was not until the second half until either side found an opening. Kenwyne Jones made the breakthrough for Stoke after 69 minutes. The Potters were denied victory in normal when Ryan Shawcross brought down Jonathan Williams in the box to give Palace a late penalty. Glenn Murray converted from the spot, forcing extra time.
But Palace must have ran out of juice as the floodgates opened for Stoke in extra time. Jon Walters scored twice in the first half of extra time to give Stoke control of the tie. Just a week earlier, Walters had a nightmare display against Chelsea where he scored two own goals and missed a penalty.
Cameron Jerome added a fourth at the stroke of full time to complete Stoke’s rout and confirm their place in the next round of the FA Cup.
Wilfried Zaha vs Xherdan Shaqiri
The two talismans of their respective clubs – but who can inspire their team to victory on Saturday?
Wilfried Zaha has inspired his Crystal Palace side to a run which has brought them close to breaking into the Premier League top ten. Palace can almost consider themselves safe and they have the excellent performances of Zaha to thank in part for their unbeaten run.
With four goals in his last four matches, Zaha has been hotly linked with a move to one of England’s bigger clubs. Bids are likely to come in this summer, and the man himself has refused to rule out a potential move.
It is clear that Xherdan Shaqiri is Stoke City’s most talented player and they will look to him to stop Stoke for going down this season. Seven goals and six assists is his Premier League tally for the season, which has helped Stoke just hang on in their bid to avoid the drop.
The Switzerland international has stated his love for Stoke and so will do anything to try and keep them up. However, he also admitted his desire to play at a higher level and will almost certainly leave the club should Stoke be relegated.
The hosts will be without defender Bruno Martins Indi, who picked up groin injury in their last game against Liverpool. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will also continue to miss out with a groin problem. Konstantinos Stafylidis is still recovering from a fractured rib and Glen Johnson faces a late fitness test.
Ibrahim Afellay has been told to stay away from the first team by manager Paul Lambert. Loan signing Jese has been given compassionate leave by the club and will not feature for the Potters again.
Crystal Palace will likely name the same starting XI for the fourth straight game after their strong run of form. Scott Dann is ruled out for the season with a knee ligament injury, but Jason Puncheon has returned to training after recovering from a knee problem. Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham are also nearing returns but are unlikely to feature on Saturday.
Potential Stoke City Starting Lineup: Butland; Bauer, Shawcross, Zouma, Pieters; Shaqiri, Allen, Ndiaye, Sobhi; Crouch, Diouf
Potential Crystal Palace Starting Lineup: Hennessey; Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek; Townsend, Zaha
This is a must win game for Stoke City. Three straight draws have kept the Potters in reach of relegation safety, but still find themselves three points adrift with just two games to go.
The Potters have not fared well against the Eagles in recent meetings. Palace have won six of their last seven matches against Stoke and they will fancy their chances to extend their unbeaten run to five matches this weekend.
All signs point to a Crystal Palace victory, but Stoke need to pull it out of the bag if they want to survive the drop this season. They have the personnel who can pull it off and so could be handed a surprise lifeline on Saturday.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace