Brighton vs Crystal Palace | Monday 22nd February 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Graham Potter’s resurgent Brighton side host not-so-local rivals Crystal Palace to the Amex Stadium for the latest instalment of non-stop football, on Monday night.
It’ll be the 10th consecutive day, and the 19th in 22 days so far this month, that at least one Premier League side has been playing. It’s given this season a bit of a ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling but, seeing as there’s nothing better to do right now, I’m absolutely here for it.
Now I’m not going to lie, I had to do some research to find out why the ‘A23 Derby’ was a thing. I’m still not really sure but it appears to also be the source of Brighton’s nickname, so there’s that.
Focusing on performances on the pitch, and these two are at opposite ends of the spectrum recently. The Seagulls are in the midst of their longest unbeaten run in Premier League history, picking up 12 of their 26 points (46%) over their last six matches – which accounts for just 25% of the games they’ve played.
Palace, on the other hand, have been on a downward trajectory for over three months. After racing out to 14 points from their first eight games, they’ve only picked up a further 15 from the other 16 matches – a worrying run of form that’s seen them concede 30 goals, having scored just 15.
Worryingly for Roy Hodgson’s side they could once again be without the focal point of their attack, with Wilfried Zaha still struggling to recover from a thigh strain that has seen him miss their last two fixtures.
It’s a major concern for the Eagles because they literally don’t function without him on the pitch. In the five games he’s missed this season, they haven’t scored a single goal.
Fair enough one of those games was against Manchester City, but the other four came against Burnley (twice), Newcastle and Leeds United’s thoroughly depleted defence.
They created a combined 2.88 expected goals in those five games (0.58 per game), and are now facing a Brighton side that infamously dominates xG data.
Since the start of the season Brighton have won the ‘xG battle’ in 16 of their 24 games, including against Liverpool (twice), Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham. Despite that, they’ve only picked up five wins and it’s why they find themselves in the position they do.
Even with their aforementioned run of good form, Potter’s men still find themselves below Monday night’s opponents in the Premier League table – though a win would see them leapfrog their ‘rivals’ into 14th.
It’s no surprise then that that good form sees Brighton installed as odds-on favourites to send Palace packing empty-handed.
The Seagulls, apparently named so in jestful protest at their opponents’ nickname The Eagles, are a best price ¾ to take all three points – with the draw an intriguing 5/2 and the away side 9/2 underdogs.
As far as goals are concerned, it’s fair to say that the bookies aren’t expecting an end-to-end thriller. Under 2.5 Goals – which has landed in eight straight games against Premier League opposition for Brighton – is a best price 4/6, with Both Teams To Score an odds-against shot at 11/10.
These prices aren’t a shock when you consider they’ll be without Wilfried Zaha and, given their record without him, I’m inclined to take Brighton to Win and Under 3.5 Goals at 5/4 with Betway.
The home side have actually seen only six total goals in their last seven games, keeping five clean sheets and winning three of them. In fact, all five of Brighton’s Premier League wins this season have had three goals or less.
Three of those games were won by a 1-0 scoreline, which can be backed at an enticing 11/2 with bet365.
They dominated the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park, which Zaha started and scored a penalty in. The game finished 1-1 but they restricted Palace to one shot in 90 minutes, compared to the 20 shots they managed, so it’s hard to see the away side creating anything here.
That could see them getting frustrated and if there’s one man that gets frustrated a touch easier than most, it’s Luka Milivojevic.
The central midfielder has picked up 6 bookings and a red card in 16 starts this season – which is appealing in itself – but dig a little deeper and it becomes even juicier.
The Serb has been carded in six of his last eight away games, a spree in which he has averaged 1.75 fouls per game. His away starts in that span look like this; red, yellow, yellow, yellow, no card, no card, yellow, yellow.
He actually hasn’t started the last two games between these sides, but has two bookings in the last three that he has, so I feel pretty confident about taking Luka Milivojevic to be carded at 13/5 with bet365. If he doesn’t start we can always cash out.