Cagey Affair At Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace v Sunderland
Sunderland travel to London for a Monday night game against Crystal Palace which already looks to be crucial for both clubs in their battle against the drop.
The Eagles are a completely different outfit to last season when Tony Pulis made them a very difficult team to score against at the expense of attacking flair. The oft-derided Neil Warnock has done quite well in his second stint at Selhurst Park since taking over after Pulis departed the day before their season opener, although Palace are still just a point outside the relegation zone despite some impressive performances.
Warnock’s men are now three games without a win after last weekend’s 2-2 draw with West Brom, when a last gasp penalty from Saido Berahino earned the Baggies a point. Of the teams in the bottom half of the table only Hull have equalled Palace’s tally of 13 top flight goals, and only Manchester City and Chelsea have scored more away although they have scored just four in four games on their own patch and only Burnley have picked up fewer points at home. Fraizer Campbell and Mile Jedinak lead their goalscoring charts with three apiece.
Despite picking up their only league win at the start of the month, it was an awful October for Sunderland overall. The Black Cats followed up a 3-1 win over Stoke by conceding ten goals without reply in two games, including their worst ever Premier League loss to Southampton when the Saints dished out a humiliating 8-0 hammering at St Mary’s a fortnight ago.
Gus Poyet’s side followed that up with a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal and at least five of the goals they’ve conceded in those two games came as a result of laughable errors, with goalkeeper Vito Mannone particularly culpable. Those losses dragged Sunderland into the relegation zone with only eight points, and eight goals, from their nine games. Only QPR have conceded more on their travels while Steven Fletcher’s brace against Stoke were the Scot’s only goals this term but still makes him the club’s top scorer.
Warnock’s only two injury doubts are over defender Scott Dann and midfielder James McArthur, but both could still play a part and Palace have a fully fit squad otherwise.
Fletcher is a doubt for the visitors with an ankle problem but Ricardo Alvarez, Emanuele Giaccherini, Sebastian Coates and Billy Jones are expected to miss out. Poyet has hinted that Mannone may be taken out of the firing line too, with Costel Pantillimon set to replace the Italian.
Head to Head
Palace have yet to lose any of their four Premier League meetings with Sunderland
after twice coming away from the Stadium of Light with goalless draws and earning wins in both their home games against the Mackems. Ian Holloway picked up his only Premier League win of his time in charge of the Eagles in their 3-1 win in this fixture last August.
When a team that don’t score many start conceding goals the writing is on the wall for them and Sunderland are that team right now, so Palace have to be backed at better than evens despite their patchy home displays. Poyet will undoubtedly try to keep things tight though so the 10/11 on both teams not scoring looks a decent punt and the 7/10 on Under 2.5 goals in the match is decent too.