The Eagles were magnificent and their performance was reminiscent of their style during Alan Pardew’s first few months as manager. The Potters struggled to get out of their own half for the majority of the opening hour of the game and this was largely due to some impressive performances among the Palace midfield in particular.
A goal on his full league debut for James Tomkins got Palace underway within ten minutes, before his central defensive partner, Scott Dann, doubled the score line moments later with a powerful header. Second half goals from James McArthur and Andros Townsend made sure of the win, with Marko Arnautovic’s strike being a mere consolation for the visitors.
How did each Palace player perform?
Player ratings (players much play at least 15 minutes to qualify for a rating)
Steve Mandanda (6 out of 10): The France international has certainly made an impact already at Selhurst Park. His excellent distribution has seen a change to Palace’s style of play and although he was rarely called into action, his ability with the ball at his feet almost made him an eleventh outfield player when the Eagles wanted to control possession. Could do nothing about Arnautovic’s strike although just one clean sheet in 25 games – despite Mandanda only playing a few of those – is an obvious area of improvement.
Joel Ward (6 out of 10): The full-back was almost back to his best at against Stoke after a few unimpressive performances. Ward supported Wilfried Zaha well and tested the opposition’s back four with a couple of very good crosses. Also defended well when Stoke grew into the game soon before and soon after half-time.
Scott Dann (8 out of 10): Another superb performance from the centre-back who is surely edging closer to an International call-up. Scored Palace’s second with a bullet header from a corner and almost bagged a second when Bojan cleared his effort off the line in the second half. Defensively, Dann was superb and marked the imposing Wilfried Bony out of the game. distribution also very impressive.
James Tomkins (7 out of 10): A dubious goal that was eventually awarded to Tomkins opened the scoring when Jonathan Walters appeared to head the ball against the defender’s knee. Almost grabbed a second when he found himself on the end of another set piece but he could not direct his effort towards goal. a partnership with Dann appears to be striking but the former West Ham man was unfortunately withdrawn at half-time and left the ground on crutches.
Martin Kelly (5 out of 10): The former Liverpool defender is not suited to the left-back position and, despite seemingly trying his best, he was Palace’s weak link. A clumsy foul in the first half gave Stoke a free-kick in a dangerous position and Mame Biram Diouf was clearly brought on by Mark Hughes to cause the makeshift full-back further problems. Kelly produced one good cross to the back post which almost found his opposite full-back Ward.
James McArthur (8 out of 10): The underrated Scotsman was in superb form for Palace. The midfielder consistently won the ball back with ease and started several attacks with his non-stop, high-energy pressing style. McArthur bagged Palace's third - an important goal in the game - after a great piece of skill took two Potters players out of the game before his deflected strike found the back of the net. The best player on the pitch during a very impressive team performance.
Joe Ledley (7 out of 10): The Welshman has continued his excellent Euro 2016 form at club level and was unfortunate that his performance lived in the shadow of the wonderful McArthur. The former Cardiff City man successfully won the ball from the opposition plenty of times and started many attacks, a couple of which almost resulted in goals. Earned a deserved standing ovation when he was replaced by Mathieu Flamini with the game drawing to a close.
Jason Puncheon (6 out of 10): The attacking midfielder had quite a frustrating afternoon, not that it really mattered. A couple of well-intended moves and passes failed to work but his set piece delivery was absolutely spot on with his corner leading to Dann’s goal and a couple more causing havoc in the Stoke box. Epitomises the pride each player seems to take in wearing the Palace shirt.
Front three shines
Wilfried Zaha (7 out of 10): The winger had a very talented Bruno Martins Indi on strings throughout the game. Zaha has done well to not be distracted by his transfer saga involving Tottenham Hotspur late in the window and his last two performances show that his early high potential could still be reached. Had one run at the end of the game that saw him dribble with the ball up the whole length of the pitch before his resulting effort was deflected over the bar.
Christian Benteke (7 out of 10): The £32 million has taken very little time to settle in and was key to the impressive victory. Won almost every dual with Stoke’s physical central defenders, although needs to bin the several needless offsides which lead to frustration. Unlucky not to grab a goal with a couple of well worked efforts and his link up play is levels above any Palace striker in memory.
Andros Townsend (8 out of 10): A very impressive display from a man who is beginning to fill the shoes of Yannick Bolasie. The winger capped off a superb performance by cutting inside from the left wing and hitting a low right-footed shot that curled into the bottom corner.
Damien Delaney (6 out of 10): Replaced the injured Tomkins at half-time and made one excellent tackle on Bony when the striker appeared to be through on goal.
Mathieu Flamini (NA): The experienced midfielder replaced the impressive Ledley on 78 minutes, just three minutes shy of being able to receive a rating.
Chung-yong Lee (NA): Replaced Townsend with five minutes to go and could not impact an already-won game.