Sunderland v Crystal Palace preview: Eagles out to deny Moyes first league win
By Andrew Dickson and Tom Bennett
Last Updated: 24/09/16 2:41pm
Crystal Palace will be without captain Scott Dann for Saturday's trip to Sunderland as they look to deny David Moyes his first league win as Black Cats boss.
But Sunderland will go into their home match with Palace hoping their 2-1 EFL Cup win at QPR can inspire a first Premier League victory of the season.
Along with Stoke, Moyes' team are one of just two sides in the top flight still to register a win in the competition.
They play a Palace team, however, which had been unbeaten in four games - winning three of them - before their EFL Cup elimination at Southampton on Wednesday.
In addition, Sunderland have failed to win any of their previous three Premier League home games against the Selhurst Park side, drawing two of them and losing one.
Palace centre-back Dann suffered a minor hamstring injury in the cup defeat at Southampton.
He also remains a doubt for next Friday's match with Everton, but James Tomkins has been passed fit and will replace him alongside Damien Delaney in central defence. Pardew will also name Delaney as captain.
Beyond that, the manager is expected to revert to much of the team that last week defeated Stoke 4-1, instead of retaining those who lost at Southampton.
Adnan Januzaj returns to the Sunderland squad after suspension. The Manchester United loanee is available after sitting out the 2-1 EFL Cup third round victory at QPR in midweek following his red card at Tottenham, and he will be joined by fellow midfielder Jack Rodwell and striker Jermain Defoe following their respective recoveries from groin and calf injuries.
Midfielder Wahbi Khazri has recovered from illness and frontman Victor Anichebe is close to being available as he works his way towards match fitness, but keeper Vito Mannone (elbow), midfielder Sebastian Larsson (knee) and striker Fabio Borini (groin) are still out.
There has been a goal in the 80th minute or later in five of the six previous Premier League meetings between these sides, including four strikes in the 90th minute.
Connor Wickham has scored three goals in this exact fixture across the last two seasons - once for Sunderland in 2014/15 and twice for Palace last season.
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Christian Benteke has scored six goals in seven Premier League games with Sunderland (including his first Premier League hat-trick in April 2013) - more than he has against any other opponent.
Sunderland have made 14 changes to their starting XI in their opening five Premier League games - more than any other side.
Alan Pardew's side have won back-to-back Premier League games for the first time in 2016 - while they've not won three in a row since August 2015.
Sunderland's slow start is by no means a new thing - they have taken until October to get their first league win in each of the last three campaigns.
Moyes has not lost three consecutive home Premier League games as manager since September 2008, when he was in charge of Everton.
"This is a perfect game for Crystal Palace. Sunderland will have a go and Crystal Palace are a better team when opponents attack.
"They have a bit of Leicester about them on the counter. They will be sky high in confidence after a couple of good results and I am backing them to win again.
"There's a lot of pressure on Sunderland and they need to make sure they don't go too gung-ho. I think Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Christian Benteke could punish them."
Paul predicts: 1-2 (Sky Bet odds 17/2)
Crystal Palace are Sky Bet's marginal favourites at 6/4, with Sunderland 15/8 to record a first league victory and 9/4 to double their points tally with a draw.
The Black Cats have been cut to even-money to face relegation due to their winless start, while back-to-back wins has seen Alan Pardew's men drift out to 9/1 to face the drop.
Christian Benteke heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2 followed by Jermain Defoe at 5/1, with the strike duo 8/1 to both find the net.