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Match Preview: Is SAFC's First League Win Imminent?

Both of Sunderland's wins this season have came in the cup against lower league opposition - something has to give though, doesn't it? Crystal Palace have won four of their last five games in all competitions and won't be easy to beat, but will we do it?

It was hugely important that Sunderland won midweek against QPR, especially with two massive home games coming up against Crystal Palace and West Brom.

Winning breeds confidence and also helps to increase the competition for places in the side - add to that the manner in which we won at Loftus Road, coming from behind, and it gives us hope ahead of tomorrow's game.

What I feel that David Moyes must not do is panic and revert to the style that has seen us lose four of our opening five games - for me, you have to take the system which allowed us to win against QPR and allow the players to go out and attempt to win again in that style tomorrow.

By which, of course, I mean playing Paddy McNair and Didier Ndong in more advanced midfield positions. People can say what they like about McNair but he's earned his chance to play tomorrow and it would be unfair to drop him on the back of that. Similarly, Ndong was the man of the match playing wider on the right hand side - why change something that is seemingly working? It would make no sense to do so.

Getting someone up front alongside Defoe will be crucial too, and Moyes has a real headache over which of Wahbi Khazri, Duncan Watmore or Adnan Januzaj takes up that role. Watmore linked up play well on Wednesday evening and played his part in both of our goals starting more centrally, so he too has a strong case for starting the game.

These are nice problems to have though and it goes without saying that we have to put out a team that not only is effective offensively but defensively. The fact is that we are leaking too many goals, and playing more hard working players in midfield at least gives us some hope that we'll not fold like a pack of cards like we did in our last home game. Palace have one of the strongest attacking lines outside of the top six and containing them is clearly the key to attaining a successful result.

Some Interesting Stats

Sunderland have lost 40% of their last twenty league home games - when contrasted with the fact that we've won only 30% of our last twenty league home games, that's pretty devastating.

In our last twenty home league games against opposition above us in the table, we've won just four of them. The Stadium of Light has become a place where just about every team in the league fancies themselves to win, sadly.

Team News

Jermain Defoe, Jack Rodwell and Wahbi Khazri have been cleared to return to the squad for tomorrow's match, meaning that David Moyes has a real selection headache for the first time since the season began.

After Paddy McNair and Didier Ndong both starred midweek against Queens Park Rangers it means that Moyes has a tough decision to make, and it could well be that Sunderland will play the unorthodox 4-4-2 system which got them over the line at Loftus Road.

Predicted XI:

Pickford, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Kone, Manquillo, McNair, Cattermole, Kirchhoff, Ndong, Januzaj, Defoe.

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Manager's Crack

In his pre-match press conference David Moyes was optimistic, giving some promising injury updates to the press.

He said:

We’ve felt much better since winning in midweek but we did a lot of good things in the Tottenham game.

They’re (Palace) renowned for being strong boys here - they showed that last year - so I’ve never questioned their character.

Jack Rodwell will come back in but we’re still waiting on other players like Fabio Borini.

Jermain is back training today and we hope he will be okay. Khazri is also back training so hopefully he will be back too. Victor Anichebe isn’t too far away.

Alan [Pardew] was always a winner in his young days and through our whole time as managers we’ve competed.

Gav's Prediction

In this week's Roker Riches I backed us to win and that gut feeling hasn't changed. Palace are going to be a tremendous threat to our defence with the forwards that they possess but I feel that Scott Dann is a huge miss for them and it doesn't inspire confidence when your best defender isn't playing.

2-1 Sunderland - Jermain Defoe is due one.

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