Preview: Sunderland Looking To Break Selhurst Park Hoodoo

Chris Brunskill

Paolo Di Canio's men travel down to the capital off the back of an stunning late comeback against MK Dons in the cup this week. Can his team keep the momentum going and get their first league win of the season?

Sunderland Team News

Sunderland will likely field a similar team to last weekend draw at Southampton, with one notable exception. Stephane Sessegnon looks to have played his last match in red and white, with a move to Qatar on the cards of the Benin forward, so the question will be who replaces him up top. Steven Fletcher will travel down to London with the squad, but is unlikely to be ready for a starting place just left, so you would expect Connor Wickham to start alongside Jozy Alitdore up front, with the England U-21 man netting two goals off the bench in midweek. While Ji has been the preferred option off the bench up until now, his awful performance against the MK Dons, where he unfairly met the ire of the fans is likely to see Wickham chosen as the preferred option.

Di Canio will also have to decide whether to go with Cabral or Craig Gardner to partner Seb Larsson in the middle.

Crystal Palace Team News

Ian Holloway changed his entire starting eleven for their midweek League Cup defeat at Bristol City, so we'll likely see a line-up similar to the one that started away at Stoke last weekend. Jerome Thomas could return from injury, but Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Barr, Glenn Murray and Patrick McCarthy remain long term absentees.

Veteran striker and Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips will likely make an appearance off the bench at some point if the home team are looking for goals.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, O'Shea, Diakite, Colback, Johnson, Larsson, Cabral, Giaccherini, Wickham, Altidore

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Campana, Puncheon, Gayle, Chamakh

Key Matchup: Marouane Chamakh Vs John O'Shea

It's fair to say Marouane Chamkh hasn't had the best of times in England since signing for Arsenal in 2009, quickly falling out of the Gunners team and having a poor spell on loan to West Ham last season. However a move to Palace represents a chance for the Moroccan to get his career back on track, and if last weekend's performance at Stoke is anything to go by, he may well take this opportunity.

Carrying a key aeriel threat, stopping Chamakh will be key to a result for Sunderland. O'Shea and his defensive partner must over-power the former Bordeaux man, who once rejected a move to the North East in favour of Arsenal, and stop him bringing the pacy Gayle into play.

Recent Form: LLLLWL

27/08/13: Bristol City 2-1 Crystal Palace
24/08/13: Stoke 2-1 Crystal Palace
18/08/13: Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham
10/08/13: Crystal Palace 0-1 Lazio
03/08/13: Waterford 0-4 Crystal Palace
27/07/12: Crawley 3-0 Crystal Palace

Last Time Around: Crystal Palace 1-0 Sunderland, 22/12/2006

You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time these two teams met at Palace. Roy Keane's eventual champions took his side to the capital and fell to a narrow defeat in a largely unremarkable game. Mark Hudson's first half winner was enough to see the home side take the spoils, with Julian Speroni denying a Stan Varga header late on.

The Sunderland team that day was: Ward, Nosworthy, Caldwell, Varga, Collins, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Kavanagh, Miller, Murphy, Connolly. Subs: Fulop, Nyatanga, Wallace, Yorke, Brown

Looking further back, Selhurst Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Black Cats, with Sunderland winning just three of their last 19 visits against Crystal Palace and previous tenants Wimbledon and Charlton. Bad memories include relegation on the last day of the 1996/97 season, League Cup defeats in 1999 and 2000, and Nicky Summerbee's face being smashed in by the elbow of terrible human being Ben Thatcher.

The Ref: Lee Probert

Funnily enough, Lee Probert was the referee for that game at Selhurst Park in 2006, the last time these two teams met. Since then Probert has refereed Sunderland 9 times in the Premier League, with The Black Cats winning 3, drawing 2 and losing 4.

Probert last took charge of the Black Cats for the horrorshow 6-1 defeat at Villa Park back in April, where he sent Stephane Sessegnon off for a dangerous tackle. He also officiated Sunderland's 3-1 win away at Fulham last season, where Brede Hangeland was sent off for the home side.

What The Managers Said

Paolo Di Canio

Crystal Palace will be difficult away from home, for sure. We know the environment we are going to find there.

They have athleticism, quality - a typical British team. It is always important to win and it would be fantastic to get that first win in the league.

I like Ian Holloway- I have followed his history from Bristol Rovers. I saw Crystal Palace play last season and they did very well. They lost a few games at the end of the season but were capable of producing fantastic energy and quality at the end.

In my opinion the manager's character is in that squad. I like him; he is skilled in a tactical way - a very good manager.

Ian Holloway

I'm excited about things that could happen, and that I can get together a group of players I can work with. I want it all done by Monday, and we have lots of slots booked for medicals.

Roker Report Predicts

This being the beginning of the season, it's one of those games that really could go any way, and it tends to be the kind of game Sunderland lose (see Burnley away, 2009, Reading away last season). Palace are still looking for their first win of the season, and will see this as an excellent opportunity to take some vital home points. However, Sunderland will be looking to take the momentum of the last 12 minutes against MK Dons into this game, and with Altidore getting off the mark in mid-week, you'd fancy him to net his first Premier League goal this weekend. Palace have, on paper, the weakest squad in the league, and I'd fancy the quality of player like Adam Johnson and Giaccherini to just about see us to victory. A narrow 2-1 for me.

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