After an encouraging win last week The Eagles will travel to face arch-rivals Brighton
The positive impacts of an extended break from matches could be seen upon the Crystal Palace team last week. The Eagles dominated the pitch against Newcastle and are likely slightly disappointed to win only by a single goal. The win saw the Eagles climb to thirteenth in the table, and more importantly nine points above the relegation zone. A win against their greatest rivals could help spurn a run of good form to put this poor run behind them.
Brighton have also been on far from their best form. The Seagulls have not won a match since their December win over Bournemouth, but have drawn four of their last five matches. Last week saw them draw a close fought match with Sheffield United. Brighton are currently in fifteenth place, but sit only four points outside of the drop-zone. They will be eager not to let that gap continue to shrink, even if most of the teams below them are showing few signs of life.
Expect a Palace starting eleven similar to the one that won last week. Scott Dann will surely retain his place after helping keep the club’s first shutout in weeks, and coming close to scoring the opening goal. There could be another change in the midfield as Luka Milivojević’s status is uncertain after missing the Newcastle game with illness and replacement CheikhouKouyaté was forced off with an ankle knock. If neither can play Jaïro Riedewald or Max Meyer could be reintroduced to the starting line-up. Christian Benteke could see his place amongst the starters under threat after missing another golden opportunity last week. Attacking options Andros Townsend and Cenk Tosunhave returned to fitness and will be chopping at the bit to get more game time.
Brighton have the ability to start a versatile back line, capable of deploying anywhere from a three to five man back line. Captain Lewis Dunk continues to lead the defence with the emerging Dan Burn, summer signing Adam Webster, recently fit Shane Duffy, and Martín Montoya making up the rest of the defence. In midfield Dale Stephens remains the lifeblood of the engine room, where he is frequently joined by Davy Pröpper and Pascal Gross. One player Palace fans will be nervous to see on the ball is Belgian winger Leandro Trossard. The summer signing leads the midfield in goals and has the pace and skill to give The Eagles outside-backs trouble.
While few would describe Brighton as a free scoring side they have certainty not struggled like Palace when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. A large part of this is due to the goal scoring exploits of summer signing Neal Maupay. The Frenchman was rumored to be a summer target of Palace, but joined the Seagulls from Brentford for a fee of twenty million euros. The striker has started twenty games and scored eight goals for the south coast team. Familiar face Glenn Murray also continues to be a factor and has had success when playing against Palace in recent years.
Crystal Palace have only defeated Brighton once since the Gulls return to the top flight and were held to a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park in December. An away win over their hated rivals could inspire both fans and players for a strong finish to the season. Brighton will likely see this as a prime opportunity to reverse their own slipping fortunes and Palace will have to be at the top of their game when they travel to Falmer Stadium. That being said Palace would be disappointed not to take at least a point, if not all three, from this match.