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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Stoke could be punished by Crystal Palace in the second half

Wilfried Zaha has been in majestic form

Stoke keeper Jack Butland couldn't prevent Burnley's equaliser at the bet365 Stadium
1 of 1

Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm Saturday

Paul Lambert made an immediate impression at Stoke, winning his first game against Huddersfield to lift the Potters out of the relegation zone, but that upward trajectory didn't last long.

January's 2-0 victory over the Terriers has been followed by five defeats and seven draws and Stoke are 1-12 to be playing in the Sky Bet Championship next season.

A home win over Crystal Palace could take their survival battle to the next weekend's trip to fellow strugglers Swansea, but Palace are finishing with a rattle and look dangerous visitors.

Stoke's desperation for the points shouldn't cloud the minds of punters. The Potters have been in serious relegation trouble for months yet have lacked the quality to drag themselves out and there have been few recent signs of resurgence.

They have won six times in the league this season and four of those wins came at home to the other teams in the bottom five.

Since Lambert's debut victory, his side have found the net just seven times in 12 games. The Scot's 13 matches in charge have featured only five first-half goals from Stoke and their opponents – a statistic betraying a cautious approach that is hard to shake off so late in the campaign.

Neither Lambert nor his players are comfortable taking the initiative but they have to go for broke at some point and Palace have the talent to take advantage on the counter.

After their horrible start under Frank de Boer – seven straight defeats without a goal – Palace are now eyeing up a top-half finish and their rediscovered confidence under Roy Hodgson was epitomised by last weekend's 5-0 win over Leicester.

Wilfried Zaha has been in majestic form, tormenting opposing defenders, and Palace have responded well after conceding late goals in narrow defeats to Tottenham (1-0), Manchester United (3-2) and Chelsea (2-1).

They have won three of their last six, also conceding an injury-time equaliser at Bournemouth, and they ran riot late on against dispirited Leicester, scoring three times in the last ten minutes.

Palace's quality on the break, coupled with the trend for low-scoring starts to Stoke fixtures, points to a dabble in the double-result market.

Eight of Stoke's last 13 matches have been goalless at the break, as have Palace's last two away games, so the draw-Palace double result is a tempting bet, as is the 4-1 about the Eagles scoring at least twice in the second half.

The context of the game means Hodgson's men could be afforded more space than visitors to the bet365 Stadium usually get and they can punish their hosts in the second stanza.

Palace have scored nearly a third of their 41 league goals in the last 15 minutes of games and they won November's reverse fixture 2-1 after a goalless first half.

Draw-Crystal Palace double result
1pt 6-1 Betfred
Over 1.5 Crystal Palace goals in second half
2pts 4-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

Premier League standings

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Team news
Bruno Martins Indi has been ruled out with a groin injury while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Kostas Stafylidis remain sidelined.

Crystal Palace
The Eagles have no fresh injury concerns but Jason Puncheon, Connor Wickham, Scott Dann and Bakary Sako are still out.

Key stat
There have been just five first-half goals in Stoke's 13 Premier League games under Paul Lambert.

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Palace have scored nearly a third of their 41 league goals in the last 15 minutes of games
E.W. Terms
Sky bet