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Sturdy defeat of Stoke suggests Crystal Palace are in survival mode

| 19.01.2014

Despite winning half of their dozen games since Tony Pulis was confirmed as Ian Holloway’s replacement,  you can still back Crystal Palace at evens – the biggest price with Coral for any Premier League side – to avoid relegation this season.

It’s difficult to figure out why the Eagles are favourites to go down at 8/11, especially after taking into account the impact Pulis has had since taking over at Selhurst Park.

Keith Millen may have been in charge during the 1-0 win at Hull in November, but the baseball cap-sporting Welshman kicked every ball in the stands and it’s not too great a leap of the imagine to speculate that his new charges upped their game due to the boss’ impending arrival.

Pulis and Sam Allardyce are the only managers in the bottom six who aren’t experiencing their first season in charge of a Premier League club – Pepe Mel, Rene Meulensteen, Gus Poyet and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are all soaking wet behind the ears by comparison.

Since he made it into the dugout, Palace’s top-flight win rate this term has gone from 16.7 per cent to 40 per cent (as the BBC helpfully points out) and three of their five reverses were narrow defeats at Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs.

Things could have been so much different at White Hart Lane had Jason Puncheon kept his head from the spot at 0-0, but the Croydon native will be forgiven by his home town faithful after scoring the only goal of the game against his new gaffer’s old employers Stoke.

That victory took the Eagles to within a win of the Potters, who are now 13/2 to go down and whose manager Mark Hughes must be looking anxiously over his shoulder at a congested relegation zone, with tenth-placed Aston Villa and basement dwellers Cardiff now separated by just six points.

Newcastle recovered from four defeats on the bounce in all competitions by beating West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park and their free-scoring French contingent were at it again, with Loic Remy sandwiching his 11th league goal of the campaign in between a Yohan Cabaye brace.

That result took Alan Pardew’s men to within a point of seventh-placed Manchester United, but Coral look to have the Geordies measure in the outright markets.

They’re an unappealing punt at 1/25 to still be in the top 10 by season’s end and hard to fancy at 40/1 to make it into the Champions League, as fourth-placed Liverpool currently hold a seven-point advantage over the St James’ Park side.

However, the bet to be on for all you Magpies followers is each-way at 33/1 for Loic Remy to finish the season as the division’s highest scorer, which pays out on the top two.

Luis Suarez looks to have the gong wrapped up at 1/12 with 22 goals and Sergio Aguero is a worthy second-favourite at 9/1 to finish runner-up, but the Argentine should be approached with caution.

Aguero missed big chunks of action over the last 18 months due to injury, including five Premier League games between the middle of December and City’s 4-2 win at home to Cardiff last time out.

Furthermore, Manuel Pellegrini’s mob-hand of strikers means Aguero will be shuffled around as his team compete for four trophy’s this term.

Pardew has no such options and with Remy likely to start every game he’s fit for between now and the end of the season, he rates a great alternative to the South American market leaders at 33s.