Three games, that’s all – three games and I am already scratching my head. Nothing makes any sense to me at the moment and quite frankly I am starting to get a little bit scared. Can you get more contrasting performances? What on earth was happening on Tuesday? My mind hurts. Anyway, here we come again London.
It has been a little while since we have gotten anything from Selhurst Park, in fact nothing yet this millennium – three defeats in three. Even in ’99 on our promotion charge we only managed a point – anyone remember who scored our goal that day?
It’s really quite hard to gage which Sunderland will appear on Saturday evening; one player who looks certain not to show is Stephane Sessegnon. Hope he isn’t driving. Lee Cattermole is also still ruled out through injury however hot-shot striker Steven Fletcher is expected to make his long awaited return with a place on the bench. Connor Wickham is set for his first starting berth of the new campaign after orchestrating our phenomenal Capital One Cup comeback on Tuesday, partnering Jozy Altidore up front. There are still question marks around Wes Brown’s fitness and with Valentin Roberge doing himself little favours against MK Dons – Modibo Diakité looks set to partner John O’Shea at the back for a second Premier League game on the trot. Newest recruit Charis Mavrias will probably be on the bench.
What of our opponents? Well, Crystal Palace are pretty much everyone’s tips for relegation this season and results seem to solidify these claims with defeats in all three competitive outings so far. That might be a harsh assessment when combing through the fine details. Beaten by only a penalty against Champions League chasing Tottenham Hotspur and literally giving away three points against Stoke City after having it so easy up to the 60th minute – the Eagles could well have found themselves with four points up to now. Whilst their starting eleven flatters to deceive, there is Premier League nouse in attack with former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh and Southampton loanee Jason Puncheon – who scored against us in his last season at the Stadium of Light. They love an attack down the left, so perhaps Ondrej Celustka will be a busy boy on Saturday – suits me since he has been very solid so far!
What They Think
We asked Dan from HLTCO (Palace’s best blog site) for his thoughts on the game;
The early part of our season has been encouraging, even if the results we've had haven't forced the assorted Premier League superpowers to sit up and take notice. Solid performances against a very strong Tottenham side and a great first-half display against Stoke, which was unfortunately let down by two major defensive errors, have forced a dampening of enthusiasm, but in the main, there is still a feeling of cautious optimism.
I would expect us to line-up with the following
DM Kagisho Dikgacoi
CM Jose Campana
I fully expect Holloway to have the team raring to go for the game, with everyone desperate for us to get some points on the board. With Jose Campana and Chamakh having impressed last Saturday, we'll be hoping that they are both fit enough to complete 90 minutes, which could just tip the game in our favour. Our supporters will be in fine voice, and given your own shaky start, we'll fancy our chances of getting something from the game.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Sunderland
Dangerman: Jason Puncheon
The obvious choice would be Chamakh, but I’m not convinced by him at all though he has a good opportunity to prove otherwise this season. Personally I think Puncheon is a little underrated. He chipped in with six league goals last season though he only started 18 games, gets plenty of shots away and has pace to boot. Should he start, which I know Dan does not think he will – I think he will cause us problems. Can’t believe I did not pick Super Kev…shame on me…
Sunderland (4-4-2): Westwood; Celustka, O’Shea, Diakité, Colback; Larsson, Cabral, Johnson, Giaccherini; Wickham, Altidore
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Jedniak, Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Campana, Gayle, Chamakh
Right, I am going to pre-empt the inevitable. Something miraculous happened on Tuesday, therefore something diabolical must be on the horizon come Saturday. I don’t have the heart to predict that so let me sit on the proverbial fence. We don’t often win on the tele, we don’t often win at Selhurst Park – which following our current trend means we will win easily, however we don’t follow any trend at the moment so draw it is. Unarguable logic that.
Palace 1-1 Sunderland