15:00 BST, Saturday 14th April, Selhurst Park (London, England)
4 points from their last 3 games have seen the Eagles tread water just above their relegation rivals, however, 5 defeats from their last 7 has left them too close for comfort.
Palace may have lost each of their last 3 home matches but these defeats all came against top-four placed opponents. Having lost only 1 of the 10 home games before this, they will have high hopes of rekindling their form on familiar territory.
Brighton will be the team looking to spoil the party, something given an added edge considering these teams feelings towards one another. With only 7 goals scored away from home this season, this would be only Brighton’s third away victory this season if they win. A single win from their last 8 meetings on this ground (L5, D2) means they will have to upset the history books and their away form if they’re to return South with all three points.
Last Time Out
Bournemouth 2-2 Crystal Palace (Premier League)
Palace were again denied victory by a late goal as the Cherries broke the Eagles hearts in the 89th minute. While it had taken the away team a long time to grow into the match, they were good value for their lead by the end of the game.
Wayne Hennessey had maintained hope with a strong performance in the first half to deny Bournemouth several good chances of taking the lead. The deadlock was eventually broken 2 minutes after the break when Luka Milivojevic scored his 10th league goal of the season and his 3rd game in succession with a free-kick to celebrate his birthday. After Bournemouth pulled level, Palace remained the dominant force in the game and looked to have sealed all 3 points with 15 minutes remaining.
Wilfried Zaha was again the Eagles hero as he struck a spectacular goal before both he and Patrick van Aanholt went close to sealing the victory with a third. But it was not to be for South Londoners who were dealt a sickening blow with only a handful of seconds left on the clock.
Brighton 1-1 Huddersfield Town (Premier League)
An entertaining encounter between these two newly promoted sides failed to produce a winner, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Both teams entered the match determined to attack and although the Seagulls could not make their home advantage count, they enjoyed the better opportunities of the match.
The opening goal came through a slice of luck, however, with Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lössl unfortunate to see his save bounce back onto him from the post and fall over the line. The Terriers response came almost immediately as Shane Duffy played the ball too casually and watched on as his team were made to pay for his error.
With Davy Pröpper receiving a red card for a two-footed lunge 15 minutes from time, Brighton’s attacking impetus was lost but they kept their defensive composure to see out a draw which moved them up to 35 points collected this season.
Crystal Palace Lineup
Julian Speroni (knee) Scott Dann (knee) Jeffrey Schlupp (knock) Bakary Sako (ankle) Jason Puncheon (knee) and Connor Wickham (fitness) all remain sidelined for Hodgson, however, Joel Ward (knock) Christian Benteke (groin) and Alexander Sørloth (muscular) are believed to be nearing a return for the Eagles and will face late fitness tests prior to the lineup being selected.
Davy Pröpper is suspended for this match while Izzy Brown (knee) Steve Sidwell (back) and Jiri Skalak (ankle) all miss out too with their respective long-term injuries. This should see Beram Kayal once again deployed in central midfield while Anthony Knockaert is also expected to return at the expense of Solly March on the right wing.
Key Battle: James Tomkins (Crystal Palace) vs Glenn Murray (Brighton)
Late goals have completely undermined Palace’s performances recently and they will need to stand firm for the full 90 minutes this weekend if they’re to improve their current standing. Tomkins has played more minutes (1936) this season than any other Palace defender and the 29-year-on-year experience could be vital for his team.
Still regarded with affection by the Palace fans, Murray will line up against them this weekend as the main force of their fierce rivals. After scoring twice for the Eagles during their last league clash in 2012, the Seagulls will hope he can redress the balance this weekend with a similar display from the opposite direction.
Raising funds and awareness
Many football clubs have been criticised by their fans for striking morally dubious sponsorship deals in the past. From bookmakers and payday loan companies to alcoholic drink manufacturers, many taboos have been brushed in the chase for extra income.
Palace and Steve Parish’s decision this week to sign a partnership with the company behind BeGambeAware.org is the first such deal by any Premier League side. As one of the 9 clubs in the league who have a sponsorship deal with a betting firm, this is hopefully the first step in a long road for clubs to show more balance to vulnerable members of their fanbase.
After 29 league games without a sending off this season, Brighton have upset this run in spectacular fashion. A dismissal in each of their last 3 matches has seriously hindered their push for safety, taking only 1 point from a possible 9 despite playing teams they should arguably have taken more from.
Not only does this leave them weakened in midfield for this trip to London, it does not bode well for what could be a fiery encounter. While the previous two fixtures have been relatively placid this season, this game has a history of spilling over with emotion. If Chris Hughton is to bring his team away with any points from this match, he must ensure his players’ aggression is channelled in the right direction when they take to the pitch.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Brighton
While Brighton have had the better results lately, Palace have been playing the most consistent football. Unlucky to be on the end of so many bad results and unlucky to have suffered so many key injuries, this match could see the Eagles luck change and help them climb away from the troubles below them.
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