Both these sides will be looking for their first win of the season this weekend which neither has been able to do so far. Sunderland lost their opening game of the season at home to a Fulham who beat them 0-1 and Crystal Palace lost to Tottenham at home from a league debut goal from new signing Roberto Soldaldo who converted for Tottenham from the penalty spot. In the Eagles’ second fixture away to Stoke they went a goal up through a Chamakh with his first start for the club. However, Palace were unable to keep Stoke out and they eventually managed to win the game with two goals coming in quick succession. Sunderland took an early lead against Southampton but were also unable to maintain their winning position as Southampton found a late equalizer through Fonte in the 88th minute.
Both teams will be raring to go to get their first win under their belts, especially manager Paolo Di Canio who experienced a dramatic end to the last season which nearly saw the black cats relegated, and any re runs of that nightmare won’t be acceptable. Ian Holloway has already vented his frustration towards referees and them favouring the so called ‘bigger clubs’ and he will hope that this game will have no errors that costs his team. After viewing Palace’s opening home game of the season the support for the team was brilliant with the fans really backing their team creating an explosive atmosphere. I am sure that the team will be hoping for another loud performance from the crowd to intimidate the visitors.
If Palace sit back and look to counter like they did against Tottenham, who found it extremely difficult to break them down then an key player for Sunderland will be Sessegnon. A player with pace and intelligence who is able to pick a pass could be crucial for Sunderland on Saturday. They should look to get him on the ball as much as possible. Sunderland struggled for goals last season only managing to score 39 goals. With Steven Fletcher injured, Sunderland need somebody to take on the responsibility to score. Adam Johnson will be hoping to make more of an impact this season as he only managed to contribute 5 goals and 6 assists.
Chamakh will be confident after scoring on his debut, and with Murray still out injured he will be expected to start for the Eagles, and with the recent addition of Jason Puncheon who is a keen crosser of the ball means there could be a fair bit of service for Chamakh to score. Palaces’ centre Midfielder Jedinak could be crucial if they are to get a result. He offers steel in the midfield whilst also offering a good array of passing ability. A key battle on the pitch could be between him and Craig Gardener.
Striker Steven Fletcher will be likely to miss the game as he is still injured which should see Conor Wickham make a start. The partnership within the midfield will likely be Craig Gardener and Sebastian Larsson. New Goal keeper Westwood will also start after the departure of Mignolet to Liverpool.
Dwight Gayle will most likely continue out wide for Crystal Palace as he is integrated in the team. In the past for Peterborough he was also effective playing through the middle which could be a option for Holloway. Chamakh is expected to make his home debut after his goal against Stoke last weekend. Jason Puncheon is also expected to start.
Last season Crystal Palace scored the most goals in the Championship however that was with Wilfred Zaha and Glen Murray playing the majority of games. Glen Murray is currently out injured whilst Zaha made his summer move north to league champions Manchester United. Kevin Phillips who is 40 years of age managed to score 9 goals last season including the crucial penalty against Watford to send Palace to the Premier league. With experience within the Premier league could he be the player to help Palace secure their first win of the season.
I expect the game to a entertaining game although there won’t be many goals to separate the two teams. I expect that the final result will be a 1-1 draw. This game could be quite important come the end of the season as both teams could see themselves in a similar position near the bottom of the table. Therefore I expect Ian Holloway in particular to make sure that his team do not lose, especially as this is a home game for his side. As both teams are seemingly struggling to score goals, a safer bet could be under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes. Sunderland’s last two results have been under 2.5 goals.
The odds for this game are very close with Palace just edging Sunderland as favourites for this game. Sunderland are 3.1 whereas Crystal Palace are 2.53. The draw looks a good bet at 3.3. Under 2.5 goals looks to be a safe bet at 1.95 looking at both teams recent statistics.