Crystal Palace vs Sunderland preview: Both sides looking to pick up from positive midweek results

Crystal Palace vs Sunderland preview: Both sides looking to pick up from positive midweek results

Sam Allardyce welcomes his former club to Selhurst Park for the first time

Sam Smith

Crystal Palace welcome boss Sam Allardyce’s former club, Sunderland, to Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Allardyce replaced Dick Advocaat as Black Cats boss in October 2015, sensationally guiding them to Premier League safety before being appointed as England manager the following July.

The Dudley-born manager lasted just 67 days as Head Coach of the national team after he was involved in a corruption scandal. He replaced the sacked Alan Pardew as Palace boss in December and faces his former club for the first time tomorrow.

Strugglers earn good results in midweek

Both teams find themselves languished in the relegation zone after some woeful form. However, they each earned good results in the midweek fixtures, boosting their chances of surviving come May.

The Eagles overcame Bournemouth to earn their first win since in nine Premier League games, and just the second victory of Allardyce’s reign – the first coming in the FA Cup third round replay against Bolton Wanderers. Goals from Scott Dann and Christian Benteke sealed a 2-0 win at Vitality Stadium.

Palace’s victory meant Sunderland needed to achieve a positive result to stay within touching distance of the Eagles. David Moyes’ side somehow came away with a point against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday after a 0-0 draw. The point – their first in the top-flight since 2 January – puts the Black Cats onto 16 points, three behind Palace, but they remain bottom of the table.

Transfer window success

Former Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt is expected to start for Palace following his January move from the Stadium of Light. The Dutchman, signed for a hefty £9 million, made his debut against Bournemouth and will make his Selhurst Park bow against his old employers.

Van Aanholt was one of four very good signings from Palace as they strengthened their weak squad. The former Chelsea man was their second signing of the window, following Jeffrey Schlupp’s £11 million move from Leicester City. The Eagles then added midfielder Luka Milivojevic and Mamadou Sakho to their ranks from Olympiacos and Liverpool respectively. Milivojevic signed from the Greek champions for £11 million, while Sakho joins on loan from the Reds until the end of the current campaign.

Sunderland added experienced centre-back Joleon Lescott to their squad in a bid to toughen up their leaky back line. Lescott was a free agent after his release by AEK Athens – who also signed the 34-year-old for free only in the summer after he was let go by Aston Villa.

Moyes then went on the increase the number of players in his squad who he has previously worked with by adding Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson to his side. both worked with the Scottish manager during his time at Everton. Oviedo joins the Wearside club as a replacement for van Aanholt while Gibson adds further depth in central midfield.

Team news

New signing Milivojevic will be absent for the hosts as he awaits international clearance, while fellow new boy Sakho was described by Allardyce in his pre-match press conference as “not fit enough to start.”

Schlupp misses the game with a hamstring injury, joining Pape Souare, Connor Wickham and Jonathan Benteke on the treatment table. Bakary Sako is a doubt having returned from the Africa Cup of Nations with a hamstring injury while Steve Mandanda will not be risked.

Sunderland’s absentee list continues to grow. Jordan Pickford, Victor Anichebe, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair are all out with long-term injuries. Papy Djilobodji is suspended.