Brighton v Crystal Palace
Monday 22 February, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports
Goal-shy Seagulls proving difficult to beat
Languishing 16th in the table, just four points above the drop zone, Brighton are far from guaranteed to be playing Premier League football next season, though one senses that Graham Potter‘s men will have no problems whatsoever maintaining their top flight status.
The Seagulls are one of the more classy bottom-half-of-the-table operators and can perhaps blame ‘not being clinical enough‘ as the reason they’re not in the top half – fans of xG ratings will note Brighton currently sit ninth in that particular table.
Potter’s men certainly have their tails up currently and will go into Monday night’s M23 derby on the back of a six-game unbeaten league run (W3 D3) that included 1-0 wins over Liverpool and Tottenham no less. They’ve also kept five clean sheets in those six games including three on the spin at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton have no fresh injuries, though recent absentees Adam Webster and Solly March are still out, while Tariq Lamptey is close to a return but Monday’s game will come too soon for him.
Eagles not completely out of the relegation woods
During last week’s 0-3 home defeat to Burnley one of the pundits on duty said that it was a good job Crystal Palace have points in the bag otherwise they’d be in a fight to avoid relegation. They could well still be in a fight to avoid the drop.
Lose on Monday night, and lose next week’s game against a resurgent Fulham side, then the Eagles will be just four points above the drop zone. And from their remaining 12 games they have every team currently in the top half of the table – barring West Ham – still to play.
Roy Hodgson’s men were available to back at 15.014/1 in the Relegation market prior to Fulham’s win over Sheffield United on Saturday night, which did look to have some trading potential to it, though at the time of this preview being published the Eagles are now 9.617/2 for the drop.
The key to safety, or even moving up the table, of course is Wilfried Zaha. Without their star man Crystal Palace’s form falls off a cliff. They’ve lost 18 of their last 20 Premier League games, failing to score a single goal in 16 of those matches. Palace won the other two games in that sequence but you don’t need me to tell you that six points from a possible 60 when without Zaha is akin to tailed off relegation form.
Following 2-0 (to Leeds) and 3-0 (to Burnley) defeats without their star man in their last two games, the Eagles will once again be without Zaha on Monday night, while Jeffrey Schlupp, James McArthur, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and Connor Wickham are also ruled out.
Home win the call without conceding
Brighton’s price to win the game has steadily contracted during the week, probably as it became more apparent that Zaha would miss the match because of his thigh injury. The Seagulls were matched at 2.1211/10 when the market first opened, but they’re now trading at just 1.84/5 in the Match Odds.
The only thing I can say about that is, I wish I was on at 2.1211/10!
Potter’s men are in far better form than their M23 rivals, they haven’t conceded a goal at the Amex for three straight matches, and they’re playing well and creating chances.
It has to be said that Palace have been very poor in their two recent defeats without Zaha, and that record without their star man is just too bad to ignore.
I fancy Brighton to take all three points but I would have liked to advise them at a bigger price than 1.84/5. I can’t put anyone off backing them still, but the Brighton Win to Nil bet appeals much more at around 2.77/4.
It’s not a wager that needs much more explaining, but in summary Potter’s men have recorded five clean sheets in their last six league games, they’ve just defeated Liverpool and Spurs without conceding, and they’re at home to a Palace team that have failed to score a single goal in 16 of their last 20 league matches in which Wilfried Zaha hasn’t featured.
At least three goals and Maupay scoring worth chancing
Brighton’s last seven league games have ended with 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 2, 0 goals being scored, so when you also consider that I don’t fancy Palace to get on the scoresheet in this game then it’s very understandable that Under 2.5 Goals is trading at just 1.715/7.
But I’m in no rush to rule out Over 2.5 Goals at around 2.35/4 simply because the Eagles look so poor without Zaha – they conceded three at home to goal-shy Burnley last weekend remember – and that they have a mini injury crisis.
Actually, add in Brighton’s likelihood that they’ll again create some very good chances, then backing at least three goals being scored is worth a wager. Of course, should Palace score – killing the home win to nil bet – then it vastly increases the chances of seeing at least three goals.
If you’re after a bit more reward for three or more goals being scored then perhaps consider some of the Brighton attackers, listed below, to get on the scoresheet.
The player I like most is the obvious one, Seagulls’ leading goalscorer Neal Maupay. The Frenchman has scored more than a quarter of Brighton’s league goals this term, he has a better than one in three scoring record, and he is the team’s penalty taker.
If Brighton are to score at least three then the chances are that he’ll get one of them, so if it’s a Same Game Multi that you like then a Brighton Win, Over 2.5 Goals, Maupay Anytime Scorer treble can be backed at 4.67/2.