Charlotte Patterson predicts... a difficult afternoon for the Lasses!
It’s been almost 4 weeks since both sides last played a game of football, but it’ll be Palace who go into this fixture as the more confident of the two. Currently sitting in 4th, with only 2 losses this season and joint first in the league in terms of goals scored, Sunderland will need to be strong at the back against a side that has proven to attack at any opportunity.
The likes of midfielder Kirsty Barton and forward Millie Farrow both have four goals each for Palace, as well Siobhan Wilson with 3. Whilst the likes of Charlotte Potts and Grace McNatty will be vital for Sunderland in order to keep things strong in defence.
Palace have been great going forward, but they’ve also been quite liable at the back, conceding 16 goals so far this season. Quite high considering their position in the table and only losing twice. Sunderland should look to exploit this, remain stalwart at the back and look to catch them on the counter.
If Sunderland do this well, they might well come away with the victory, but I do worry for the Lasses as we’ve added no acquisitions during the winter break and have no one really contending for the forward position. Most of our goals have come from defenders.
Because of this, I feel that Palace will have the upper hand due to their strong attack and should Sunderland score, Palace do have it in their repertoire to outscore opponents with their aggression and pressure going forward. I’m going for Sunderland 1 - 2 Crystal Palace.
Ant Waterson predicts... a win for Mel Reay’s side
Sunderland kick off their 2022 with a home game against Crystal Palace. The reverse fixture finished 1 each and since then, Palace have managed to get themselves up to 4th place on the table. However, a victory for Sunderland would see them move within 3 points of Palace and almost certainly guarantee we stay up.
Team-wise I expect a return to the side we are used to seeing in the league. Maria Farrugia impressed in the Conti Cup so I can see her starting in one of the wide positions. The back five will see Mullen and Beer fight for the right back role providing Mullen is fit again. Our two centre halfs pick themselves when fit. Cowling I would imagine will return in goal leaving a midfield three of Herron Kelly and Joice with Ramshaw in the 10.
I’m expecting a really tricky game and Sunderland will need to be at their best to get all three points. But as always I’m going for a win. 2-1 Sunderland with Scarr and Ramshaw scoring. Good luck lasses.
Graeme Field predicts... a close game!
It’s going to be great to see the team back in action after the festive break. The visit of fourth-placed Crystal Palace is a game that I’m really looking forward to. Sunderland will endeavour to inflict a third league defeat of the season on the south Londoners. Sunderland played well in the 1-1 draw away to Palace earlier in the season, but will have to be at their best to pick up three points at the Hetton Centre.
At the time of writing it’s unclear if any Sunderland players will be unavailable due to injury or whether there will be any absentees with Covid-19. Manager Mel Reay will have a tough decision to make in goal, with both Moan and Cowling keen to impress. The lasses will look to build from the back with our solid defence with the excellent pairing of McCatty and Potts.
The manager will again however be left with the task of getting the best out the squad in an attacking sense. It’s an area we’ve struggled in at times during the season. I’d play Neve Herron in behind Emily Scarr, as the youngster is a real threat in an advanced role. Despite this, an experienced centre forward will be on the wish list of the manager. Not only to carry a threat into the second half of the season, but to assist in the development of the talented Eve Blakey. I’m going for a 1-1 draw with a goal from Scarr.