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FAN PREVIEW: Sunderland game for Crystal Palace is a must-win

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Palace fan and online columnist for the Advertiser, Benjamin Watts, preview tonight's clash with Sunderland at Selhurst Park...

Monday night is a huge game for both sides.

Palace come into the match having squandered a two-goal half time lead at the Hawthorns last weekend. Before that draw with West Brom, they lost two Premier League matches on the bounce, 1-2 at home to Chelsea and away to Hull City.

As for Sunderland, Gus Poyet's men have become masters of their own downfall in recent weeks.

The Black Cats were totally overrun by Ronald Koeman's rampant Southampton side at St Mary's, before they self-destructed once again last weekend at home to Arsenal by gifting two goals on a plate to Alexis Sanchez.

Subsequently both managers will know the importance of getting a result at Selhurst Park. Eagles fans will probably remember the respective fixture from last season – Palace conquered by three goals to one, thanks to a Dwight Gayle penalty and a Stuart O'Keefe wonder goal, after Danny Gabbidon and Steven Fletcher strikes had initially put the teams on a level footing.

That game was Ian Holloway's first and only Premier League with Palace.

New boss Neil Warnock has already bettered that thanks to a home win against Leicester and an away triumph at Everton.

However, having lost to West Ham and Chelsea at home – as well as a goalless draw with Burnley which could have so easily ended in defeat were it not for Julian Speroni's heroic save from Scott Arfield's spot-kick – Warnock will be wanting to capitalise on Sunderland's recent mishaps and begin making Selhurst a fortress once again; as it was under Tony Pulis last season.

Scott Dann remains a doubt for the Eagles, having missed the last two matches with a knee injury.

It is worth noting that in Dann's absence, Palace have conceded six goals in three matches (including Hull when Dann went off after twelve minutes), shipping precisely two a game. That is a record Warnock will want to put right.

Damien Delaney is back in contention after serving his one-match suspension, while James McArthur could feature if he recovers from his hip injury.

If McArthur is fit, Warnock must also decide whether to play a flat five across the midfield or whether to retain Marouane Chamakh in his starting eleven.

The only other area of contention whether or not Julian Speroni will start, after his head injury against West Brom. If required, Wayne Hennessey is a more than worthy replacement.

With difficult matches against a resurgent Manchester United and a home fixture against Liverpool coming up, this is surely a must-win game for Palace.

The record books are on our side though – Palace have beaten Sunderland in each of their last four meetings at SE25. Let's hope Warnock's boys can add a fifth on Monday night.

FAN PREVIEW: Sunderland game for Crystal Palace is a must-win


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