Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Saturday 15:00
Sunderland seem to approach each game with the mindset of not losing rather than seeking to force the advantage themselves. A home game against Palace a couple of weeks ago would have been viewed as a welcome opportunity to change this, but after the Eagles’ current resurgence Moyes will probably look to continue with a defence-first policy, especially without the suspended Januzaj.
Sunderland will have to adapt their approach though, as occasional draws (they have drawn one and lost four so far) will not be enough to retain their Premier League status. Jordan Pickford kept down the scoring with a plethora of saves to deny Spurs a rout last weekend, but with only two shots on target Sunderland can hardly expect to pick up many points this way.
Crystal Palace are on the up at the moment and could easily have racked up a bigger score against Stoke. Andros Townsend was brilliant and direct whilst Zaha built on his performance the previous weekend with another strong showing. Palace’s game plan is a known quantity, but despite everyone knowing they will look to get it wide and hit the target man, it’s another thing effectively defending against such tactics. However, this was a performance more notable for cohesion in midfield. There was clarity to their play, with McArthur excellent and providing industry and assurance, whilst Puncheon was dangerous with his set-piece delivery.
Whilst Sunderland won midweek as Palace succumbed to a lifeless defeat, not too much should be read into the performances in the League Cup. The Eagles were without Puncheon, Townsend and Benteke whilst Sunderland had to come back from a losing position against a QPR team currently 16th in the Championship. The Black Cats have lost four of their five Premier League matches this season, and we think there’s value in backing a narrow one goal victory for Palace at 4.2.