Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion
Selhurst Park, Monday, 27th September, kick off 8:00pm

by John Spillane

The Eagles, who started the weekend in 14th, host the Seagulls, 10 places and seven points better off, in what has become known since the late 1970's as both the A23 and M23 derby. Based on results over the last two days an away win could send Graham Potter's side to the top of the table, a feat never previously achieved in the club’s 120 year history.

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Brighton have had difficulty over the last few seasons in capitalising on their neat, possession-based football. They have struggled in converting shooting opportunities into goals. However, this season they have found a ruthless streak and have a record of W4, L1, with wins over Burnley (a), Watford (h), Brentford (a) and Leicester City (h). Neal Maupay is top scorer with three, but Danny Welbeck, Alexis McAllister, Shane Duffy and Leandro Trossard have also hit the mark. The sale of Ben White to Arsenal hasn't hit too hard, as Duffy has returned from his poor loan spell at Celtic and has re-discovered his form partnered by Lewis Dunk. Robert Sanchez continues to show excellent form between the posts and the return to fitness of Tariq Lamptey will provide them with additional attacking options. Yves Bissouma is an injury concern but if fit his presence will increase solidity in midfield.

Patrick Vieira's opening three games weren’t the best, starting 0-3, 0-0, 2-2, Straight away there were concerns that his spell in charge may be as short lived as Frank De Boer. A 3-0 win against 10 man Tottenham, who at the time were top of the table, thanks to a Wilfried Zaha penalty and two late goals from new signing Odsonne Edouard, diminished any fears. A 3-0 loss at Liverpool last week (their only fixture outside the capital to date) doesn't tell the full story, having hit the post early on. This is a team in transition, with some of the experienced heads from last year having been moved on. Chelsea loanee, midfielder Conor Gallagher, has made an immediate impact and Marc Guehi, another Stamford Bridge product, is working well alongside Joachim Andersen. Cheikhou Kouyate is the strength in midfield, but the attacking roles are undecided. Christian Benteke has started the season as first choice, but the time is coming for Edouard to be given a starting role.

Last season Palace came out on top 2-1, despite Brighton having 75% possession. If those ball retention statistics are repeated, an away win is likely. With the speed of Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp in their ranks, the home side could profit from sucking Brighton in and hitting them on the counter. Both sides are much improved than a year ago and a share of the points wouldn’t be a surprise.

Suggested bet : Draw (21/10)

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