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Preview: Home Cup Final Against Crystal Palace

Everything you need to know ahead of tomorrow's vital six-pointer at home against Crystal Palace.

Chris Brunskill

Sunderland Team News

After missing the disappointing FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Hull City due to a combination of injury and illness, Wes Brown, Craig Gardner, Jozy Altidore and Valentin Roberge will all return to the squad, although only Brown is likely to start.

Elsewhere, Fabio Borini should return to the central striker role he had success with in the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City, which may leave room for Emanuele Giaccherini on the left. Adam Johnson, Ki Sung-Yueng, Vito Mannone and Marcos Alonso should return to the starting line-up after being rested in the cup defeat.

Despite Gus Poyet leaping to the defence of Lee Cattermole after his horror show against Hull, expect Liam Bridcutt to return to the starting line-up.

Crystal Palace Team News

Marouane Chamakh is the only absentee for Palace, the Moroccan striker picked up a hamstring injury during the Eagles' away draw at Swansea and will be out for a good few weeks.

Tom Ince was left out of the starting line-up for their home defeat by Southampton but he may return to the side for tomorrow's game. Other than that not many changes are expected from the that Southampton defeat.

Predicted Line-ups

Sunderland vs Crystal Palace - Premier League - 15th March 2014 - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Bridcutt; Johnson, Ki, Colback, Giaccherini; Borini.

Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Speroni; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Moxey; Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie; Ince; Murray.

Key Match-up: Liam Bridcutt Vs Tom Ince

With Tony Pulis going for his customary 4-4-1-1 formation, it will be vital that the deep-lying striker is prevented from linking up with the main striker. Tom Ince can cause lots of problems if he isn't watched closely, the attacking midfielder has plenty of pace, tricks and an eye for goal.

The job of shackling the England under-21 international is likely to be handed to Bridcutt, who will know Ince from his time in the Championship and will be fresh after being ineligible for the Cup Final and rested for the Brighton game. Should Bridcutt come out on top in this battle, Sunderland will have gone a long way to keeping Palace quiet.

Recent Form: WLWLDL

Win: Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City (Puncheon 16')

Loss: Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace (Oxlade-Chamberlain 47', 74')

Win: Crystal Palace 3-1 West Bromwich Albion (Ince 15', Ledley 27', Chamakh (pen) 69'; Bifouma Koulossa 46')

Loss: Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United (Van Persie (pen) 62, Rooney 68')

Draw: Swansea City 1-1 Crystal Palace (De Guzman 25'; Murray (pen) 82')

Loss: Crystal Palace 0-1 Southampton (Rodriguez 37')

Last Time Around: Sunderland 0-0 Crystal Palace, 30/01/2007

Sunderland came into this game riding high in the Championship and full of confidence, that led to the away side coming to the Stadium of Light for a point and putting 10-men behind the ball. A tactic that paid off as the Roy Keane's team just couldn't break down the visitor's resolute defence.

Sunderland had plenty of shots on goal but very few troubled the goalkeeper and when they did Gabor Kiraly was equal to them. Crystal Palace did test Darren Ward once from a rare breakaway but he comfortably saved Stuart Green's shot.

A disappointing 0-0 draw was the end result, with Peter Taylor's team coming away with the point they wanted.

The Ref: Neil Swarbrick

This will be the fourth Sunderland game of the season for Swarbrick, with the previous games being Fulham (h), Aston Villa (a) and Carlisle (h).

In those three games he has only shown one yellow card to a Sunderland player, against Phil Bardsley at Villa, and has shown no red cards and given no penalties. In his entire career he has has failed to send anyone off or given a penalty in a Sunderland game and only booked 15 of our players in 12 games (as opposed to 19 for the opponents).

In the 24 games he has taken charge of this season, he has issued 73 yellow cards and only one red.

What They Said

Gus Poyet

We have been waiting for this; we've been desperate to play.

I hope that the occasion is massive - I can see and feel in the city that everyone feels the same.

It's probably the most important game. I know that finals are very important, but the aim from the first second was to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

We have 12 games to go now, starting with this one, which is a massive game.

Tony Pulis

Every game I go into, I try to win. I'm more concerned about us putting in a performance and trying to do the best we can do.

Whatever Sunderland need to do, they need to do. We just want to make sure we're on the ball and we do our best.

I've won there, drawn there and lost there. It's a ground I've been to and got results. It's a fabulous stadium with a fantastic atmosphere.

Roker Report Predicts

Since Poyet took over Sunderland, the rare poor performances have been quickly followed by improved showings, this needs to be the case tomorrow. In what is a vital six-pointer, we simply cannot afford another showing like the FA Cup quarter-final against Hull.

We expect a tight, nervy affair, with the home side just about edging it 2-1 thanks to an in-form Borini making the most of his new found central striker role.

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