No clean sheets at Selhurst Park – Betting Preview
Already being heavily backed in to be the first Premier League manager sacked in 2013/14, Ian Holloway's position weakened further after a midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Bristol City.
Of course, in reality, Mr Holloway - whatever he says in press conferences - will be mindful that an early exit from a cup that is of little, if any, prestige will free up his Crystal Palace (8/5) teams schedule that little bit more, allowing them to concentrate on the more important matter of Premier League survival.
Survival, indeed, will be very, very hard for Crystal Palace given their lack of talent and squad depth, but in terms of scoring goals Maroune Chamakh (8/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) is capable of netting ten or so in a season, while veteran stalwart Kevin Philips (8/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) has not lost his instinct in front of goal.
But will Palace be able to keep enough clean sheets or simply outscore their opponents often enough to keep them in England's top division, though? Again, I seriously doubt it.
Sunderland (2/1) manager Paulo Di Canio is blessed with such confidence that he's unlikely to doubt himself, but the Italians purchase of Jose Altidore for a reported fee of eight million pounds is questionable to say the least.
A flop whenever he's played in a major league, Jose Altidore (7/1 to score first, 15/8 anytime) scored only once at Villarreal, netting the same amount in a seasonal loan at Premier League side Hull in 2009/10.
In all fairness, the boy is only twenty-three years of age and did score thirty-nine goals in sixty-seven games for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar between 2011 and 2013, but then what does that count for in reality - Afonso Alves scored forty-five times in thirty-nine games for Heerenven before joining Middlesbrough to score ten in forty-two- and where is he now?!
Indeed, whilst I must be careful not to make this article a discussion on how to tell if you're getting the next Romario or Afonso Alves when buying from the Dutch top flight, Di Canio must be praised for bringing in compatriot Emanuel Giaccherini from Juventus.
Having already scored in his second Premier League game, Giaccherini (14/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) is sure to add some much needed steel and dynamism to the Black Cats midfield.
With regards to choosing a bet, given the criticism I've levelled at Sunderland's striker and Palace's relegation chances, under 2.5 goals sounds like the best punt to take.
But at 13/20 and considering that Palace surely have to attack and go for the win after their pre-mentioned cup defeat - coupled with the added pressure that the other promoted teams, Hull and Cardiff, have already won a Premier League game - I instead opt to recommend a bigger priced bet in both teams to score.
Sure, Palace v Sunderland is a boring game on paper and both teams to score is a lot more likely to win in a game such as Arsenal v Tottenham, but Palace have lost 1-0 at home to Spurs and 2-1 away at Stoke so far this season, while Sunderland have lost 1-0 at home to Fulham and drawn 1-1 away to Southampton.
The common dominator of these results is that neither team has been able to keep a clean sheet - fingers crossed that this is the case on Saturday evening!
Recommendation: Both teams to score (10/11)