Can Tony Pulis keep Crystal Palace in the Premier League?

Since taking over at Crystal Palace at the end of November, Tony Pulis has managed to turn their season around.

The Eagles looked destined for the drop from the offset, picking up just three points in their opening ten games under Ian Holloway.

Pulis took over at Palace on 23 November, after Holloway left the club, and he was able to make an immediate impact, beating West Ham 1-0 in his first home game as manager.

The former Stoke boss is averaging 1.30 points per game with Palace, who were averaging just 0.58 points per game before his arrival.

Tony Pulis did a fantastic job with Stoke City, over two spells at the Britannia, as he managed to cement the Potters place in the Premier League after promotion in 2008 - and they have remained in the top flight since.

This stability has been the key to Pulis’ managerial style, as he has improved every side he has managed in his career, and remarkably, has never been relegated as a manager.

This has been evident since he took over at Crystal Palace, as the Eagles look sharper and are a solid unit to break down for opposing sides now.

Palace have only conceded ten goals in 11 games since Pulis took over, after allowing 21 through their first 11 games of the campaign.

The South-London club have some huge fixtures coming up as they look to avoid relegation to the Championship, in a battle that looks set to go right down to the wire.

They have tough trips to Arsenal and Everton in the next month, and host Manchester United all before the end of February.

Palace crashed out of the FA Cup on Saturday to last year’s winners, Wigan, but this might be a blessing in disguise for the club who can now turn all attentions to survival.

Pulis’ men host Hull City on Tuesday night in a must-win game for the Eagles. Hull have failed to score in their past three games and Palace will be confident of completing a double against the Tigers, after a 1-0 win at the KC Stadium in November.

Crystal Palace have lost just one of their last six at Selhurst Park, picking up 11 points from a possible 18, and they must continue to pick up points at home.

The biggest concern for the Eagles is that they are the league's lowest scorers, with just 14 goals scored in 22 games. They must start scoring more goals if they are to remain outside the bottom three.

The side currently sit in 16th place, just two points above the relegation zone, after a vital 1-0 home-win against Stoke City last time out.

This is set to be a big week for the club, with a huge game tonight against Hull, and the closing of the transfer window on Friday night.

Tony Pulis has been desperate to strengthen his side this month, but they have yet to add anyone to the squad - which is the largest in Europe.

Pulis is reportedly “raging” at the lack of transfer business so far, but the club still has time to make last minute acquisitions to help the club survive.

The Crystal Palace manager has been in an almost identical position before. In the 2002-03 season, Pulis took over at Stoke City in November, for his first spell in charge.

The Potters were favourites to be relegated from the First Division (now Championship) when he took over, having been promoted the season before.

Though against all the odds, Pulis was able to keep Stoke up on the final day of the season, with a 1-0 win at home to Reading enough to ensure survival.

Crystal Palace fans will be hoping for the same result come May, despite the fact that they still remain favourites for the drop.

It could go down to the final game of the campaign, as Palace travel to fellow strugglers Fulham on May 11 as the relegation battle looks set to be an enthralling battle to watch.

image: © Tom Brogan

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