Crystal Palace v Brighton: In-form Seagulls can take M23 derby honours

Crystal Palace v Brighton: In-form Seagulls can take M23 derby honours

Not a bad start at all for the Eagles

At first glance, sitting 14th in the Premier League table going into the weekend, and possibly close to the relegation zone come kick-off on Monday night, it looks like Crystal Palace have endured a poor start to life under Patrick Vieira.

But I don’t think that would be a fair reflection on how they’ve actually performed.

The Eagles have lost two out of five league games so far and those came away at Chelsea and Liverpool no less, and they were far from disgraced in losing at Anfield. Their five points have come virtue of an excellent draw with then top-of-the-table West Ham, a draw with a Brentford side that have started the season in great form, and a 3-0 thrashing of Tottenham, who at the time of playing had a 100% winning record in the league.

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Palace sit mid-table for both xGF (9th) and xGA (11th) which, along with their five points gained from a very tough opening set of fixtures, indicates that they’ll enjoy a decent season under Vieira and comfortably stay away from the relegation places.

As is always the case, Wilfried Zaha will be Palace’s talisman this term and he’s started the campaign in decent form, while the addition of both Conor Gallagher and Odsonne Edouard – four goals between them already – give the Eagles much more of a goalscoring threat than in previous seasons.

Seagulls flying high under Potter

Hands up if you were surprised when Brighton got rid of Chris Hughton and appointed Graham Potter a few seasons ago. Just me then!

That’s the same Chris Hughton who has just been sacked at Championship strugglers Nottm Forest, and the same Graham Potter who could end Monday night top of the Premier League table.

The Seagulls have been excellent under Potter, especially this season, and the only surprise to me is that he’s still the Brighton manager and that Tottenham didn’t make him their number one target during the summer.

Brighton have won six of their seven games this term, including four out of five in the league, and they’ve done it in a manner in stark contrast to how they played last season.

Potter’s men were dominating many of their games last term, creating chances for fun, but failing to find the back of the net on a regular basis. This season they’ve enjoyed slightly less possession while creating fewer clear cut chances (they are towards the bottom of the xGF table), but crucially they are scoring on a more regular basis.

Neal Maupay – three goals so far this term – remains their number one and most influential striker, but the fact that the Seagulls have already had eight different goalscorers in just seven games suggests they have become far less reliant on one of their attackers finishing off one of their many slick moves.

No repeat of Palace’s smash and grab heroics

Surely in years to come, when you ask Alexa to give an example of modern day football daylight robbery she will reply with, “The two games between Brighton and Crystal Palace in the 2020/21 Premier League season.”

For the record the Eagles took four points from those two games, drawing 1-1 at Selhurst Park before beating the Seagulls 2-1 at the Amex. Palace had three shots in those two matches, they scored three goals. Brighton dominated both games, averaging over 70% possession, and had almost 30 shots for their two goals.

The game at the Amex, in which Palace took the points in the last minute, will forever remain as one of the biggest smash and grab performances in Premier League history.

And it’s the memory of those two games last season that lead me to believe that Brighton are a decent price to win this game at 2.68/5.

True, on the early evidence of this term we can argue that Palace are a better side than they were last season, but so too are Brighton, much better in fact. Remember, they will end the weekend top of the table if they take all three points at Selhurst Park.

Crystal Palace can be backed at 3.259/4 for the home win while the Draw can be backed at 3.39/4, but I’m happy to make a Seagulls win my best bet of this clash.

Solly can March on

If you like a goals punt then Over 2.5 Goals may appeal to some at 2.47/5 given that these two shared five goals in two matches last season and that Brighton have been scoring regularly this campaign, but it’s a player shots bet that will be my second wager.

Potter has generally lined up with a 3-4-2-1 formation this season with Marc Cucurella (left) and Solly March (right) getting high up the pitch when Brighton are in possession.

March is a player I particularly like in this role. The 27-year-old registered 22 shots from 19 league starts last term, and he’s managed three shots in his three league starts this season with two of those being on target.

If Brighton, as I expect, dominate possession against Palace then it’s not too difficult to envisage March having a few shots at goal when cutting in from out wide, and odds of 13/5 about him having at least one shot on target make plenty of appeal.