Premier League Preview: Sunderland v Crystal Palace

Gus Poyet will be hoping that the Stadium of Light crowd can stir shattered Sunderland for the relegation six-pointer with Crystal Palace.

Sunderland return to Premier League action on Saturday following their recent cup exploits for the first of two vital games against sides slogging it out with Poyet's men to avoid the drop.

Defeats in the League Cup final and last eight of the FA Cup over the last two weekends at the hands of Manchester City and Hull City respectively followed a 4-1 top-flight thrashing at Arsenal.

Poor performances against Arsenal and Hull will have dented confidence and Poyet must now pick up his players - with a little help from the usually vocal Sunderland supporters - for what is one of the biggest games in the club's season.

Victory over Palace would haul Sunderland level with Tony Pulis' team on 27 points, and most likely lift them out of the bottom three as well, depending on results elsewhere.

With just seven points separating second-bottom Sunderland with West Ham in 10th, Poyet knows that games like the Palace clash - plus the trip to fellow strugglers Norwich City a week on Saturday - represent the perfect chance to boost their survival hopes.

Sunderland can take heart from their recent home form, which has seen them claim five wins from their last seven Stadium of Light outings in all competitions, plus the likely return of Wes Brown.

The former Manchester United defender missed the Hull game last Sunday with a knock, but Poyet expects him to be fit. Craig Gardner is also available again after overcoming a knock of his own. 

Palace make the trek north two points clear of the relegation places and having lost 12 of their 16 away games in all competitions this season.

Pulis will be keen for a response after he lamented his forward line's lack of creativity following the 1-0 home defeat against Southampton last weekend.

Much has been made of the fact that Palace have scored the fewest goals (19) in the Premier League in 2013-14, but the London club had little trouble finding the net when the sides met at Selhurst Park at the end of August.

The 3-1 success represented Palace's first league win since returning to the top flight via the Championship play-offs in May.

Both clubs have changed managers since that game and, despite Palace looking toothless going forward against Southampton, defender Dean Moxey is confident of doing the double over Sunderland.

"It's another game for us to go up there and win," he said.

"We beat them at Selhurst Park with a first win in the league in August so I'm sure we can do it again."