The festive period in the Premier League begins on Thursday night when two rivals battle it out for three points at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace go up against Brighton and Hove Albion to get another round of matches underway.
There is never much love lost between these two sides and with three matches coming up in a little over a week both will be looking to use this match as a springboard for some decent form to round off 2023 with.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event channels. The build-up in the capital begins at 7.30pm ahead of an 8pm kick off.
This has been a bit of an up and down campaign for Crystal Palace. They have largely been doing enough to keep their head above water without really pulling up trees yet they have had some high points like winning at Old Trafford along the way. They do go into this match on a run of just one win in their last 10 matches and that victory came at Burnley which barely counts as anything in terms of a form guide, so they’ll be looking to turn that around here.
Injuries haven’t helped Palace in their recent run with key players such as Ebere Eze missing a large period of those matches and you do sense that we are heading towards the time where another change in manager takes place at Selhurst Park, not least because the Palace home form is very poor this term. The Eagles have won just one of their eight home matches this season and what is more worrying is they have scored just seven goals.
Brighton and Hove Albion
I think it is fair to say that this season hasn’t quite lived up to the overall levels of last term for Brighton and Hove Albion but it was always going to be difficult to replicate the achievements of the previous campaign. Even then, they go into this match sat in ninth place in the table and already through to the last 16 of the Europa League and with plenty to look forward to in the second half of the season as they push for another year of European football.
One reason why this term hasn’t been as consistently good as the last one apart from their first foray into European football has been a crippling injury list which has a lot of starting players on it. The likes of Solly March, Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinan, Danny Welbeck and Ansu Fati have all missed large parts of the campaign. Brighton have had no problem scoring goals this term. They average just under two goals per game but they are conceding at nearly the same rate and that is a problem.
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Ebere Eze returned to action last week and Roy Hodgson could bring him back into the starting XI for this game but he will be without his skipper Joel Ward as he sustained a hamstring injury in the 2-2 draw with Man City. Jefferson Lerma is hopeful of being fit. Jordan Ayew returns from injury.
Joel Veltman went down with a knee injury in the loss at Arsenal on Sunday afternoon and he will miss the next two months. Danny Welbeck is on the comeback trail but isn’t ready to start while Solly March, Ansu Fati, Julio Enciso and Pervis Estupinan are all out.
One trend in matches involving Brighton and Hove Albion this season and actually dating back to last term has been how often both teams score. Brighton finally ended that run of 16 straight games in this campaign with both scoring when they failed to score at Arsenal on Sunday but Crystal Palace are not Arsenal and I would expect Brighton to get back to scoring ways here, particularly fuelled by the rivalry fire, not that a Roberto de Zerbi team needs firing up.
Brighton still haven’t kept a clean sheet in the Premier League this season and I’m not convinced that changes here. Crystal Palace aren’t the most free flowing side going forward but they have scored against Liverpool and twice against Manchester City in their last two matches and even if they can’t have much joy from open play against their rivals, they will be able to create opportunities from set plays, which Brighton are notoriously poor at defending. Over the course of the 90 minutes I expect both teams to score.
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