Despite Jermain Defoe’s spectacular winner against a lacklustre Newcastle side on Sunday, Sunderland are far from safe in the Premier League. They currently occupy fifteenth position, four points away from West Brom in fourteenth. More worrying for their fans is that Sunderland are just three points ahead of Burnley in nineteenth position, so they could easily be pulled back into the relegation places.
Crystal Palace are almost certainly safe, and are just one point from reaching the magic forty point mark. The Eagles go into the game at the Stadium of Light on the back of a hugely impressive 2-1 victory over champions Manchester City, and will fancy their chances of taking at least a point from Saturday’s match.
Sunderland are without Sebastian Larsson , who picked up his tenth booking of the season against Newcastle. Dick Advocaat will also be without Emanuele Giaccherini (ankle), Wes Brown and Ricardo Alvarez (both knee), though Jack Rodwell could be involved as he overcomes a hamstring injury.
Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak could return from his four match suspension, particularly as Joe Ledley is struggling to be fit with a thigh injury. Palace will also be without Frazier Campbell, Jerome Thomas, Lee Chung-Yong and Marouane Chamakh, meaning that Glenn Murray will be given the chance to continue his recent good form in front of goal. Jordan Mutch is also a doubt for the match.
- Sunderland are undefeated in their last six matches against Crystal Palace in all competitions.
- Crystal Palace have won their last three matches in the Premier League.
- Sunderland have won just one of their last six matches; the 1-0 defeat of Newcastle in the Tyne Wear derby.
- Palace have scored at least twice in their last three league matches.
- Surprisingly, Patrick van Aanholt has the most Premier League assists for Sunderland, with four.
- Mile Jedinak and Glenn Murray lead the way in the scoring charts for Palace, with five each.
Sunderland: Jermain Defoe.
Defoe might just be the natural goalscorer that Sunderland need to fire them out of trouble. His brilliant volley at the weekend proves his undoubted class up front, and was his third goal in ten starts for The Black Cats. He’s never been high up any tables for assists – none so far with a pass completion rate of just 77% – but Defoe is an out and out striker with an eye for goal. Sunderland will be hoping for a few more from the former Spurs and West Ham striker between now and the end of the season.
Crystal Palace: Jason Puncheon.
Puncheon has been one of Crystal Palace’s most consistent performers this season. The twenty-eight year old has started twenty-five times for The Eagles this season, scoring four goals. Puncheon leads the way for Palace in the assists category, with seven, and has won the man of the match award once. His brilliant free-kick against Man City turned out to be the match winner, and his technical ability is finally being matched by his application on a regular basis in the Premier League. Palace should survive, and Puncheon will undoubtedly be one of the many reasons for their success this season.
Possible Line Ups:
Pantilimon, Jones, Vergini, O’Shea, van Aanholt, Gomez, Cattermole, Rodwell, Wickham, Defoe, Fletcher.
Crystal Palace (4-1-4-1).
Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Jedinak, Zaha, McArthur, Puncheon, Bolasie, Murray.
Sunderland are scrapping for their lives, but their morale will be boosted by beating old rivals Newcastle last week. Palace are in good form, but I think Sunderland will have just enough.