Paul Lambert: 'We have to beat Crystal Palace'

10. Wilfried Zaha  88 rating

Stoke City boss Paul Lambert has refused to play down the importance of Saturday's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.

The 70-year-old's reign started with three straight defeats, but he turned around the south London club's fortunes and they are now 11th in the table with two fixtures left to play.

Instead of filling their coffers from the off-the-scale TV revenues and fixtures against some of the biggest clubs in the world, Sunderland will next year be playing Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood.

"It's clear for everyone we have to win on Saturday".

The 70-year-old said: "I am actually quite proud of what the players have achieved for this club, the way they have accepted all the things that have been thrown at us, the injuries, the misfortune in one or two games when we have played so well".

So congested is the bottom half of the table that Crystal Palace, who began the season by failing to score a goal in seven successive defeats, have climbed to 11th, 38 points and probable safety. There is plenty of belief in the squad we can get out of trouble.

"One last home game, one massive push again and hopefully results will go for us".

Even after 11 games, the Eagles' points tally was at four, so for them to be as good as safe pleases Hodgson.

"I am really proud of those achievements".

Stoke are winless in 12 Premier League games, a run going back to when they beat Huddersfield 2-0 in Lambert's first game in charge.

Roy Hodgson has no intention of walking out on Crystal Palace at the end of the season, but stressed the need to prepare better for the 2018/19 campaign. "That's what they've done since we've been here and because of that we're still well within the fight". "We just need to make sure we are on the front foot to win the game".

Hodgson is looking up and a top-half finish looks entirely possible with games against Stoke on Saturday and West Brom next weekend to come.



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