Date: 1st March 2016 at 11:51am
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Sunderland will see this fixture against an out-of-sorts Crystal Palace as an ideal chance to climb out the relegation zone, as well as dragging their freefalling opponents further into the scrap.

Sam Allardyce’s side slipped to a 1-0 defeat against West Ham in the early kick-off on Saturday to remain second-bottom, but a win against Palace could see them leave the drop zone if Norwich fail to win.

The experienced manager has targeted five wins from their last 11 games, which would take Sunderland to 38 points; this game will surely be one of those earmarked as winnable given the visitors’ current plight, and if the Black Cats do pick up a victory it will bring up the league double over the Eagles.

Four of Sunderland’s six league wins this season have come against sides in the bottom seven of the league table, and their home form is improving; they have taken seven points from their last four matches at the Stadium of Light, including a win over Manchester United.

Palace staged a spirited second-half fightback at the Hawthorns on Saturday, but succumbed to a 3-2 defeat as a nightmare first 30 minutes which left them 3-0 down and with too much to do.

The Eagles’ ten match run without a victory is the longest such streak in the Premier League, and has left Alan Pardew – who at Christmas was being touted for the England job and Palace likewise for Europe – admitting his side are in a relegation fight.

However, the Stadium of Light has been a good venue for Palace in recent years; they are unbeaten there in their last three visits and won 4-1 in this fixture last season.

Team News:

The hosts remain without the injured attacking duo of Duncan Watmore and Jeremain Lens, but have no other fresh injury concerns after the weekend.

Palace are boosted by the return of Yannick Bolasie, who is set to start his first league game since mid-December, back when Palace were flying high. Bakary Sako could also return, but James McArthur and Jason Puncheon are both out.

League Position: Sunderland – 19th (23 pts); Crystal Palace – 14th (32 pts)
Previous Meeting: Crystal Palace 0-1 Sunderland (November 23, 2015)
Sunderland – LDLDWL; Crystal Palace – LLLDLL
Key Men: Sunderland – Jermain Defoe; Crystal Palace – Yannick Bolasie
Shoot Says: Sunderland 1-1 Crystal Palace

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