Why Crystal Palace Can Give Sunderland Nightmares

A scary night ahead for Sunderland in SE London?
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A scary night ahead for Sunderland in SE London?

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Tonight sees Sunderland travel to Selhurst, as another one of those crucial basement battles is set to unfold.

There is always somehow a little more atmosphere at a night game, whether it is because it is played under the floodlights or possibly that as you have the whole day to think about it, the build-up is that much more intense. Whatever the reason, there is an extra dimension and considering our last Premier League evening match was ‘that one’ against Liverpool, then expectations are understandably high.

With both sides currently in the bottom five, alongside the three promoted clubs, there is the added frisson of a relegation scrap to add to the combustible mixture, so some pre-emptive fireworks could be on the way.

Palace recovered from two successive defeats with a creditable draw at the Hawthorns last weekend and could have had all three points if Mark “I’m off to see Ed Sheeran, so don’t bother me now” Clattenburg had not ignored Craig Dawson’s elbow on Speroni for the first goal.

He might also have picked up on the fact that Jedinak got the ball in the challenge that led to the late penalty. But we are not bitter; they are genuine mistakes especially when your head is full of the lyrics of “The A Team”, whereas the FA’s lack of action over what Warnock described as Dawson’s ‘assault’ is unforgivable and a dereliction of duty. In their eyes, it is far more important to ban a player for three matches for a tweet. But this is a subject that merits a separate piece, so let’s return to the matter in hand.

As for Sunderland, they also achieved a recovery of sorts after their mauling at St. Mary’s a couple of weeks ago, restoring some credibility with just the 2-0 loss to Arsenal at home.

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There must be some lingering doubts amongst the Black Cats’ defence as both goals against Arsenal were due to mistakes and they may not have banished those demons completely. Putting their back four under concerted pressure might add to further furrowed brows and will hopefully bring rewards. A combination of Chamakh’s hassling and the pace of Bolasie/ Zaha / Puncheon may bring that Southampton nightmare back to haunt them.

McArthur should be back from injury to bolster the midfield and if we can seize the initiative and not allow the tigerish Cattermole and his cohorts much time or space, then we can give Wes Brown & Co a ghoulish night. It would be great to have Dann back as well at the heart of the defence but that looks less likely. Compared to last season we have always looked capable of scoring goals but we also look vulnerable, especially at set pieces and a rock solid defensive performance would not go amiss.

Last season this match brought Holloway the only Premier League points of his spell as our manager. Much has happened in the intervening year or so but another win would be welcome, and another magical night under the lights would do the trick and prove a seasonal treat.  

Richard’s book The A-Z of Football Hates is available now online and in most bookshops.

Follow him on twitter @rcfoster and @AZFootballHates