Midfielder Joel Ward knows exactly what Crystal Palace are up against when they take on the top teams, and he knows it can happen in an instant.

Ward has earned the plaudits for his form since moving from right back to midfield, and he was imperious again in the first half of the Premier League defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

However, while Spurs’ ability shone through over the second 45 minutes, Ward knows the bigger clubs do it much quicker.

The 24-year-old said: “The toughest teams I’ve faced this season are Manchester City and Liverpool.

“They know how to keep the ball and work the space, the match at Anfield was especially difficult.

“But the top teams are able to flick a switch and suddenly turn it on, have that moment in a game where out of the blue they can hurt you.

“If you’re not in the right position or ready for it, they make you pay.”

He added: “What we have to do is stop them doing that, but it is very hard.”

Palace entertain Tony Pulis’ former side Stoke City this weekend at Selhurst Park.