Sunderland will be determined to claim three points which could take them out of the bottom three as they entertain a woefully out-of-form Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening.
Despite the distance between the sides in the league standings, there was little to separate Sunderland from West Ham United on Saturday, but a failure to convert one of several second half chances proved their undoing and they came away with a defeat that keeps them second from bottom, albeit with a superior goal difference to the teams around them. Jermain Defoe was not as reliable in front of goal as normal, while Jack Rodwell was also frustrated when opportunities came his way.
But the positive aspect for manager Sam Allardyce will be that his side continue to perform well enough to suggest that they stand a very good chance of hauling themselves out of the trouble they are in. Defensively they look more sound, while in terms of going forward they are showing fight and really are taking the game to the opposition. This though is a home game that they must capitalise on, with Palace suffering a crisis of confidence at present.
After a dismal first half showing in which they rarely made any forays forward and failed to cope with West Bromwich Albion’s dynamic forward line, Crystal Palace do deserve credit for the way they responded after the break, just falling short of pulling off what would have been a magnificent and highly unlikely comeback. Had it not been for the rejection of two very strong looking penalty claims, they could well have emerged with a share of the points.
The inspiration behind that second half resurgence was the return of Yannick Bolasie to Premier League action from the bench. His pace and direct running made Palace look a completely different side and he will be central to his side’s chances of ending their miserable run of results here. Sunderland know all about the threat he carries after his quick-fire hat-trick in this fixture last season, while they also know about their former player Connor Wickham, who will hope to kick on after his brace in the West Midlands.
The home side remain without midfielder Jeremain Lens and forward Duncan Watmore due to injury, while Sebastian Larsson may be in contention to return following a lengthy absence.
Bolasie is likely to start for Palace in place of Emmanuel Adebayor, while winger Bakary Sako may be fit enough for a place on the bench. Pape Souare completes a three-match ban.