Stats beginning to add up for City's forgotten middle man Palacios
T ONY Pulis reckons mystery man Wilson Palacios is geared up to silence his critics.
The Honduras international has suffered an awful beginning to life at Stoke after just nine Premier League starts in his first season and none to date in his second.
But the 28-year-old midfielder is primed for probable action at West Ham on Monday because of Glenn Whelan's hamstring injury and Dean Whitehead's one-match ban.
And Pulis believes Palacios is, at long last perhaps, ready to start justifying last year's £6m move from Tottenham.
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"He might be involved if Glenn isn't fit," said Pulis, as he awaited news of the scan expected to rule out Whelan.
"It might be Wilson's chance. He's trained better, it's just taken him more time."
Palacios arrived from Spurs with the remnants of a knee operation still clinging to him last year – and subsequent progress towards full fitness has been seemingly chequered to say the least.
"He's had a real, real bad injury that he got over, but then unfortunately he hurt it again," explained Pulis.
"We have had to be patient with him, but he's been a great lad around the place.
"I've sensed over the last month or so a desire to prove to people he can play in the Premier League."
Those people may or may not include the manager himself, of course, though he has remained nothing but supportive of Palacios in public.
Palacios has probably had to look long and hard for friends elsewhere after such a moderate start to life in the Potteries.
His supporters would argue he hasn't had the chance to prove himself thus far, however, and they have been quick to point towards some statistics casting a more encouraging light on his Stoke career so far.
For Palacios, who has just three sub appearances to his name this season, comes out favourably in various categories when compared to Stoke's other midfielders.
Just a note of caution, as ever with statistics, for his figures come from 800 minutes of game time last season, while Glenn Whelan apparently played 2,486 minutes, Dean Whitehead 2,363 and Rory Delap 1,526.
Now this is where the figures start to get really interesting for the much-maligned Palacios.
According to Opta, he challenged for a 50/50 every 9.2 minutes, compared to Delap (12.1), Whelan (12.3) and, most surprising of all perhaps, Whitehead came last on 13.74.
Similarly, we are told that Palacios went 31 minutes between each of his tackles, Delap 42 minutes, Whitehead 43 and Whelan 44.
Ricardo Fuller, just out of interest, went three-and-a-half months between his tackles.
Palacios was also seemingly well ahead of his colleagues when it came to surrendering possession.
For he went 200 minutes on average between losing the ball, while Whelan went 96 minutes, Delap 85 and Whitehead 70.
Now to the more creative side of their game and passing accuracy, which is a bit closer with Palacios again out in front on 83 per cent, Whitehead second on 80, Whelan third on 79 and Delap fourth on 69 per cent.
But Palacios opens up a gap on his midfield rivals when we narrow it down to passing accuracy in the attacking zone.
He apparently comes out with an 81 per cent success rate, Whitehead is 10 points behind on 71, Whelan is on 70 and Delap 59.
There is far more to a player's game than these statistics, of course, but to be fair to Palacios they do paint a slightly more upbeat picture of his contribution so far at Stoke.
The challenge now is to reproduce such stats over a much longer period if/when he gets the chance.