Sunderland Predicted XI vs Crystal Palace: Reduced injury list gives Moyes more options

Who will Moyes give the nod to this weekend?

Sunderland Predicted XI vs Crystal Palace: Reduced injury list gives Moyes more options
Sunderland Predicted XI vs Crystal Palace: Reduced injury list gives Moyes more options

David Moyes now has virtually a full squad to pick from as Sunderland go in search of their first league win of the season at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Pick Pickford

It's been a really tough start for 22-year-old Jordan Pickford to regular first-team football in the Premier League, as he made a mistake which let slip a win at Southampton and conceded three at home to Everton, all be it the latter being hardly his fault. The last week has been good for local lad Pickford, though, as he put in a phenomenal display against Tottenham Hotspur to limit the damage for his team to just a 1-0 defeat.

The display at Spurs in front of the TV cameras certainly allowed Pickford to show that he is a good goalkeeper and can play at this level for a long time to come. Another solid display from Pickford in the 2-1 League Cup win at QPR means there's no doubt he'll keep his place for this game and many more to come.

Familiar looking back for

The back four is the one section on the pitch where Moyes has a bit of depth to choose from and it showed in London on Wednesday with Javier Manquillo and Lamine Kone both being rested for the EFL Cup tie at Loftus Road. However both are likely to come back into the team for the Palace game, as they're the strongest in the squad in their respective positions.

Manquillo, of course, had to play at left back last week after Patrick van Aanholt was pulled out of the match at Spurs just half an hour before the game began on the advice of a cardiologist. The Dutch international returned against QPR on Wednesday though, and had no ill effects from a full 90 minutes so should start against Palace. Van Aanholt's also been in the spotlight this week after a video emerged of him smoking a certain substance during the offseason, but after all this he is fit and raring to go.

As for the final spot in the defence, it appears Moyes has three options available to him in the form of current starter Papy Djilobodji, John O'Shea and Manchester City loanee, Jason Denayer. Djilobodji has had a tough few days with the shocking error which led to Harry Kane's winner on Sunday, and a not-that-impressive performance against Championship opposition, and may be dropped as a result.

Therefore this means a straight battle between Denayer and O'Shea for the other centre-back spot. Youth will win out over experience simply because Deanyer has put in two fine displays out of position at right-back, while O'Shea has been found wanting in previous meetings with Crystal Palace. Denayer should get a start in his preferred position.

Kirchhoff to be partnered by N'Dong and Cattermole

Sunderland were really grateful to have Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole on the pitch together last week and, along with record signing Didier N'Dong, it allowed manager Moyes to operate the same system that worked so well for Sam Allardyce's Sunderland at the end of last season as they performed another relegation escape act.

Yann M'Vila of course was in this trio last season, but N'Dong is a similar type of player and is already on his way to being as big a fan favourite as the Frenchman was. Moyes should persist with the three central midfielders, and give them a chance to get the team playing the way they were from March to May earlier this year.

Januzaj and Gooch to get the nod out wide

The revisted system of 4-3-3 allows the wide men in the Sunderland side to be out and out forward players either side of a main striker. Last season this was Fabio Borini and Whabi Khazri, but the former is out injured until the end of November and the latter is seemingly out of favour with the manager and missed the QPR game with illness. 

These positions pick themselves for this game, with Manchester United loanee Adnan Januzaj set to return from his one-game suspension on one side after being sent off for two bookings at Tottenham. The Belgian international has come in for some criticism after that game, but he should have had an assist to give Sunderland the lead but for Steven Pienaar to miss an absolute sitter.

Pienaar is obviously a contender to play on the other wing but after that miss at Spurs - where he picked out the man on the line from just six yards out - he should be sacrificed for someone else. That leaves the two reserve team breakouts Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch. When we're talking about starting games, Watmore is not a fit  as his a better player off the bench, so Gooch should start on the left.

Defoe will continue up front

Jermain Defoe picked up a knock at his old stomping ground last week so, as a precaution, was left out of the cup match where Joel Asoro started and Josh Maja made his first team debut off the bench. Defoe has looked a frustrated figure in the last two games and this has duly infuriated fans who believe he could do more. He should shake off his knock and be able to show an improved performance on Saturday.

Predicted XI: (4-3-3) Pickford; Manquillo, Denayer, Kone, van Aanholt; Kirchhoff, Cattermole, N'Dong; Januzaj, Defoe, Gooch.