Kevin Phillips

Know Your Enemy: Crystal Palace

by Stuart Vose

We profile final new top-flight face for 2013-14.

Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips fired Palace back into the Barclays Premier League after an eight-year stay in the Championship.

Phillips’ extra-time penalty in the play-off final against Watford secured a return to the top-flight for Ian Holloway’s side.

‘Super Kev’ scored 130 goals in 230 games for the Black Cats and, should he seal permanent move to the Eagles over the summer, he’ll return to the Stadium of Light in March to what is sure to be a warm welcome.

Selhurst Park has been Palace’s home for 89 years and it’s a ground that Sunderland will look to improve their recent record on having lost on their last three visits.

The ground’s capacity is 26,309 which will make it the third smallest stadium in the Premier League with only Swansea City and Hull City lower in capacity.

The 576-mile round trip to South London will be the fourth-longest trip Black Cats fans will have to make for a Barclays Premier League game in 2013-14.

The last time the two sides met in the top flight it was Sunderland who came out on top at Roker Park as goals from David Rush and Kieron Brady secured a 2-1 victory for Denis Smith’s side.

There’s no doubt that Palace will invest in their squad ahead of their first fixture against Tottenham Hotspur but they’ll hope to get last season’s 31-goal top scorer Glenn Murray fit as the Eagles look to set to permanently lose Wilfred Zaha, whose loan spell from Manchester United ended after the play-off win over Watford.

Sunderland’s David Vaughan will be familiar to multiple members of the Palace squad through his international allegiance; Darcy Blake, Jonathan Williams, Danny Gabbidon and Lewis Price have all been in the same Wales squads as the former Blackpool midfielder.

Damien Delaney is an international teammate of Black Cats defender John O’Shea whilst Whitley Bay-born defender Peter Ramage will return to the north east with the Eagles.

Holloway has won two of the eight games he has taken charge of against Sunderland with his first win coming as Plymouth Argyle boss back in 2006 before his Blackpool side won 2-0 at the Stadium of Light in December 2010.