Brighton almost fought their way to a 0-0 draw with Manchester United at the weekend, only a Lewis Dunk own goal prevented them from gaining a point. That performance will have only reassured Chris Hughton of his sides quality, with Jose Mourinho admitting “I want to be honest and give them what they deserve, for me probably they deserve more than the result they got.They gave us probably the hardest match we’ve had this season.” That is no small compliment, Manchester United have already played Liverpool, Tottenham and current title holders Chelsea. The result has left Brighton in ninth, five points behind eighth placed Watford.
Crystal Palace still sit bottom of the league despite a 2-1 win against Stoke on Saturday. A late equaliser from Mamadou Sakho saw Palace move just three points from safety, easing relegation worries. The Eagles have picked up some good results in recent weeks, with draws against Everton and West Ham, both who have relegation doubts of their own. Hodgson admitted the Londoners had some luck, “It was an even contest and we’ve played better before. We got a bit of good fortune with the Sakho goal. If you fight to the end you’ve always got a chance and we showed fighting spirit.” Words like that will only encourage the home side, especially when Palace have yet to win or score away from home.
Pascal Groß has been key this season for Brighton, contributing 3 goals and 5 assists, but it is Dale Stephens who has been key this season. He has made 682 passes this season, over 100 more than Davy Pröpper, the next highest player from both sides. He has also completed 40 tackles with a success rating of 60%, showing how effectively he covers for a Brighton side who like to play attacking football high up the pitch. Palace’s chances revolves around Wilfried Zaha, their top scorer with three goals. If he is in his best form, he can break down any defence with his blistering pace. If it isn’t his best day, Palace will struggle having only scored 8 times this season, five if you take away Zaha’s goals.
This game should go the home sides way, but in their current form, it’s hard to tell what Eagles team will turn up. At their best, Palace might edge this, but a sterling performance against United definitely points to Brighton continuing their success in their return to the Premier League.
Match Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Crystal Palace