The FourFourTwo Preview: Crystal Palace vs Sunderland
Slow starters both quietly confident of gaining first league win of the season.
After suffering 1-0 defeats on the opening weekend of the campaign, both sides will view Saturday evening's encounter as 'winnable' on the back of improved showings last time out. Palace were well placed to leave Stoke's Britannia Stadium with a victory, only for two terrible attempts at defending to cost them dear. The Black Cats also travelled home disappointed having secured just a solitary point at Southampton after Emanuele Giaccherini's early header was cancelled out by Jose Fonte's late one.
Midweek League Cup clashes against third-tier teams brought mixed fortunes. Palace were dumped out by Bristol City, while Sunderland scored a morale-boosting four goals in the last 12 minutes to beat MK Dons.
Young striker Connor Wickham bagged a late brace, while summer arrivals Jozy Altidore and Adam Johnson also netted as the hosts offered the near-19,000 spectators some optimism for the road ahead.
Ian Holloway's men will take some encouragement from their last Selhurst outing against Spurs, but they'll need to be less profligate in front of goal after just five of their 14 attempts at Stoke were on target.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Sunderland 1-1 Crystal Palace (Championship, Jan 07)
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Sunderland (Championship, Dec 06)
- Sunderland 2-1 Crystal Palace (FAC, Jan 05)
- Sunderland 2-1 Crystal Palace (Championship Play-offs, May 04)
- Crystal Palace 3-2 Sunderland (Championship Play-offs, May 04)
The point picked up at St Mary's last week was only the third Sunderland have won in their last six league games. They are likely to be more aggressive against the league's new boys, having spent much of last week soaking up pressure and being out-passed 459 to 167.
The Eagles remain without Jonathan Parr, Paddy McCarthy, Jerome Thomas, Yannick Bolasie and Glenn Murray, while Sunderland will still be missing Wes Brown, Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole.
Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon was charged with drink driving on Wednesday after being pulled over on Tuesday evening. Manager Paolo Di Canio may be able to hand striker Steven Fletcher his first start of the campaign after the Scotland international appeared on the substitutes' bench in midweek after five months out with ankle knack.
Player to watch: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
The midfielder's combination of grit and guile may prove key to Palace prevailing. The Australia international was the top passer against Stoke last time out, completing 48 out of 59, but he also completed the highest number of clearances (14) and won more aerial duels (9 from 14) than anyone else.
Ian Holloway's position as Palace boss has been in doubt just two games into the season, with former manager Neil Warnock and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew linked with returns to their old stomping grounds. Chairman Steve Parish dismissed the "nonsense", adding: "there's not one ounce of truth or credibility in the rumours. You always get speculation about every Tom, Dick and Harry."
Di Canio hit the headlines (for a change) last weekend after a fracas with 'excitable' wedding guests at the team hotel the night before the Southampton game. The Italian was further agitated by his side's display against MK Dons: "I am very happy for 15 minutes, but I am very angry for 75, so the balance is not very good."
Facts and figures
- Crystal Palace have won just two of their 20 Premier League games in the month of August (W2 D7 L11).
- Sunderland have picked up just three points in their last six Premier League games (D3 L3).
- Despite both teams playing in the Premier League for numerous seasons, this will be the first meeting of the pair in this competition.
- Excluding play-offs, Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last three league clashes with Sunderland (W2 D1) and have kept a clean sheet in each match.
- The Black Cats have lost six of their last eight league matches away from home in the Premier League (D1 W1).
- Sunderland have won just two of their last 11 Premier League trips to London (D2 L7).
- The Eagles have lost just three of their last 25 home matches in league competition (W13 D9 L3 – including playoffs).
- Only Newcastle (5.9%) and West Brom (23.1%) have poorer shooting accuracy so far this season than Sunderland (28.6%) in the Premier League.
- On the day of this match, it’ll be 3052 days since Palace last won a home match in the Premier League. That victory came on 23rd April 2005, when they defeated Liverpool 1-0.
- Marouane Chamakh has scored just one goal in his last six hours and 23 minutes of Premier League football, but this came last weekend against Stoke City.
The Black Cats to build on the positives from last week's away draw and register their first win. 1-2.