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From The Stands

18 November 2015

In this week's edition of our regular fan blog From The Stands, Simon Mills discusses the visit of Sunderland, Sam Allardyce and playing at Selhurst under the lights.

An awful lot has happened since I last blogged going into the international break. Given our biggest concerns during that time would have been to avoid injury, no one could have foreseen the events in Paris. I would therefore like to begin my blog this week by sending my best thoughts and heartfelt wishes to Yohan Cabaye and the rest of his compatriots in France.
We now demonstrate our unity and resilience in the face of such horror by turning our attention to getting business back to normal and as such it’s time to look ahead to our Monday night fixture with Sunderland.
There always seems to be something special about Selhurst under the floodlights, the atmosphere seems super charged and the crowd are always up for it. It could simply be that we’ve had to wait even longer for our usual fix of Palace that whips up the crowd and if that’s the case, then after waiting two full weeks for another game the place should be absolutely rocking!
The last time we played in front of the cameras on a Monday night was that little matter of a 2-1 victory at home to Manchester City towards the end of last season, with Glenn Murray poking the ball home at the far post and a superb free kick from Jason Puncheon giving the Eagles all three points, despite a consolation from Yaya Toure. Then there was of course ‘Crystanbul’, the night that killed Liverpool’s title dream back in 2014, when Damien Delaney and an inspired Dwight Gayle left Luis Suarez and countless Liverpudlians sobbing on their way out of the gates! Such special memories are made of games like these and again, there just seemed to be that something magical in the Monday night air.
Sunderland at Selhurst seems to be a bit of a favourite for Sky – this will be the 3rd game in consecutive seasons that it will be broadcast live. The 1st year was our first victory back in the top flight and incidentally Ian Holloway’s only Premier League points for Palace. That day we battered our opposition 3-1 with goals from Gabbidon, Gayle and O’Keefe, duly aided by the sending off of John O’Shea assisting our way to victory. Last year’s clash wasn’t such a happy tale as we found ourselves on a reversal of that score-line under Neil Warnock. So I guess it’s our turn to win 3-1 again right?
Well, as is the nature of the Premier League, it’s all change once again as Sunderland have another new manager in Sam Allardyce and we (thankfully) have Super Alan Pardew at our helm. The other difference is that while Connor Wickham is likely to feature again, this time it will be wearing the stripes of red and blue!
In the past, Allardyce has been accused of long ball tactics which, given some of the players he has worked with in the past (Carroll, Cole, etc.) may have been more about working to his team’s strengths. The one thing he has already highlighted for Sunderland is to strengthen at the back, so we could see a ‘backs to the wall’ type performance – something in the past we would have struggled with. Fortunately, with the additions we made during the summer, we seem to perform much better against such tactics and I’m confident that should we meet such an approach on Monday we can get another good result to continue our run.
Dwight Gayle is likely to be missing if reports are to be believed, but in a game where space behind their defence is likely to be at a premium, it may be an occasion where his absence is not as keenly felt.
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