Crystal Palace v Brighton | Saturday 2nd March 2019, 12:30 | Sky Sports
1976: that was the year when this rivalry really sparked into life. Terry Venables was the Crystal Palace gaffer, with Alan Mullery in charge of Brighton – both were charged with gaining their respective clubs promotion to the second division.
It harks back to the days when they were colleagues at Spurs in a playing capacity. The legendary Bill Nicholson was boss at the time and heralded Mullery as a key player, even handing him the captaincy ahead of Venables. Suffice to say, the pair did not get on from that point.
That season the two sides met on five occasions, the first of which was interrupted by smoke bombs being thrown on the pitch; that 1-1 draw set the tone for an explosive campaign. The pair were then pitted together in the 1st Round of the FA cup, another draw which left Mullery frustrated with Palace’s negative approach and dared them to employ the same tactics in the replay at home. Venables obliged and a similar stalemate played out.
This is back in the days of second replays, so they went again at a neutral ground. After being postponed twice for unforgiving weather conditions, the match was finally played in December at Stamford Bridge. Brighton and Mullery were left seething when Palace ran out 1-0 winners after the Seagulls were wrongly disallowed a goal, and falsely made to retake a penalty that Brian Horton converted due to encroachment – but that was only by Palace players. The retake was then saved by Eagles keeper Paul Hammond.
You can imagine the emotions during and after that game. Mullery stormed over to referee Ron Challis to run his mouth, he then marched into the tunnel but before he got there piping hot coffee was thrown over him by a Palace supporter, an act to which he replied with several V flicks. He then scrambled five pounds out of his pocket, chucked it on the floor and said “that’s all you’re worth Crystal Palace!” – he was later fined the grand sum of £100.
That bitter rivalry has carried on in the intervening period, and now the two sides find themselves pitting their wits against each other in the Premier League 43 years on.
Like that 1976 season there’s little separate them nowadays; Palace still have the upper hand sitting three points ahead of their south coast rivals. Roy Hodgson, a Croydon boy born-and-bred, has been talking up the fierce rivalry and it’s importance to both sets of supporters. His side are in a good moment and will be hoping to continue that here against a Brighton side that notoriously struggle on the road.
Batshuayi to bag?
Michy Batshuayi has made a positive impact for the Eagles since coming in from Chelsea in the January window. It’s been a problem position for Hodgson and the talented Belgian has fitted in seamlessly.
He’s bagged two in his last three and will be eager to open his Selhurst Park account on Saturday, 21/10 (Betfair) quotes say he does so and it’s not a bad price for a striker for a team that are odds-on to win the match.
Batshuayi is averaging 2.80 shots per-game and there was some 11/10 on him to have Over 2 Shots with William Hill but unfortunately that ship has sailed and it’s now been chipped in to 1/2.
The former Marseille man has cause to be optimistic though, he’s up against a Brighton defence that is giving up 1.60 Expected Goals (xG) per-game, 8.40 shots in the box and 1.11 xG from open play. That’s bottom five figures on all major metrics.
Another theme for Palace is just how many corners they get. They rank fourth for corners and it’s no surprise when you look at their set-up, there’s most certainly a correlation.
The capital club well known for their quick and tricky wide men, opposition full backs have their hands full and often step off, allowing them to get to the byline. They also get off 13.2 shots per-game on average and boast a decent enough 1.30 xG.
With Brighton’s defensive nature on the road, I don’t expect them to do much attacking, and be happy to take a point here I think – it’s Chris Hughton’s modus operandi. The pressure is on the hosts to attack and I like them starting off a -2 handicap in the corner stakes at 19/20 with William Hill.
Mark your card
Lastly, I have to get involved with the card markets in some form.
Wilfred Zaha is the most fouled player in the Premier League with a mammoth 18 players picking up cautions for offences on the Ivory Coast international. He’s likely to be directly up against Spaniard Martin Montoya, and I think he’s simply overpriced at 4/1 to be booked with Bet365. I’d have him as a 5/2 shot here.
The right-back ranks quite highly on all the defensive metrics: 2.30 for tackles, 2.20 for interceptions and 1.30 for fouls per-game. He was booked recently against Leicester after being done for pace by Harvey Barnes, and he could easily find himself in a similar position here.
Given the feisty nature of this affair it makes the 4/1 quotes even more appealing.
Crystal Palace v Brighton – Michy Batshuayi to score at anytime (21/10 Betfair)
Crystal Palace v Brighton – Crystal Palace -2 corner handicap (19/20 William Hill)
Crystal Palace v Brighton – Martin Montoya to be carded (4/1 Bet365)