The rivalry between Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion is arguably the most curious in English football. Forty-two miles separate the two clubs’ grounds, and there have ‘only’ been 43 meetings between the pair in the last 60 years. Make no mistake, though: there is no love lost between these two clubs.
The enmity can be traced back to the 1970s, when Palace and Brighton both climbed from the third tier to the First Division. Eagles boss Terry Venables did not get on with Seagulls manager Alan Mullery, and a contentious FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge furthered the bad feeling between the two sets of supporters.
The game in question featured Brighton being controversially ordered to retake a penalty, which in turn led to Mullery swearing at and insulting the Palace fans after the final whistle. The feud grew from there and any Premier League betting fans who are sceptical about the levels of distaste Palace and Brighton harbour for each other should keep a close eye on events at Selhurst Park this weekend.
There is, however, a lot more than just pride and bragging rights up for grabs in south London on Saturday – and the resultant tension is likely to result in a cagey, low-scoring encounter, making the over/under goals market odds slightly less appealing than usual. Roy Hodgson’s men surrendered the lead twice at the Vitality Stadium last time out, with a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth leaving them looking nervously over their shoulders at the bottom three.
Brighton, meanwhile, were not able to emerge triumphant in their meeting with Huddersfield Town, which means survival is not yet guaranteed despite a seven-point cushion above the drop zone. With some tough games still to come, Chris Hughton will be desperate for his side to avoid defeat here.
A 1-0 success against Burnley in the middle of January lifted Palace into 12th spot in the standings, but the last three months have been altogether more difficult. Hodgson’s charges have won just once in their last 10 matches – a 2-0 victory at Huddersfield – and are now only three points above the dreaded dotted line.
There has been much talk of the Eagles’ so-called straightforward run-in, and while it is true that their list of upcoming opponents is more favourable than some of their relegation rivals’, there is still plenty of work to do before Palace can celebrate another season of Premier League football.
For their part Brighton have now gone three games without a win, but the south coast side may only require another point to be safe. Scoring goals has been an issue for Hughton’s team throughout the campaign, with West Bromwich Albion, Huddersfield and Swansea City the only outfits who have found the net fewer times than their 29.
Albion had to rely on a Jonas Lossl own goal to get on the scoresheet last weekend, and Palace’s central defenders are likely to feel reasonably confident about their chances of containing ex-Eagle Glenn Murray. It is also worth remembering that the south Londoners have had their fair share of struggles in and around the penalty area.
Palace may have scored in 11 of their last 12 Premier League outings, but seven of those games featured just one goal for Hodgson’s side and holding midfielder Luka Milivojevic is still their top scorer with 10 – seven of which have come via spot-kicks. Be sure to keep this in mind browsing odds from the top bookmakers online.
Leading centre-forward Christian Benteke missed the Bournemouth draw through injury and it remains to be seen whether he will return to the starting XI here; Hodgson may be tempted to stick with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend as split strikers, although the speedy duo are unlikely to be afforded as much space in behind as they were against a bold Bournemouth team playing in front of their own fans.
Indeed, Hughton is not the type of manager who will let his charges off the leash at Selhurst Park, and Brighton’s first objective will be to make life as difficult as possible for the hosts. The former Newcastle and Norwich head coach would probably take a goalless draw in the capital, and it is instructive that they have netted just two goals in their last nine league games away from home.
Hodgson is also a naturally conservative coach, with some Palace fans criticising his reluctance to make potentially game-changing substitutions, so neither manager will be taking unnecessary risks this weekend. All of which points to a game low on goals.
BetBright is currently offering odds of 4/7 on under 2.5 being scored in total. If not the value you're looking for, 888 is also offering odds of 11/18 via their online bookie site. If you are feeling particularly brave, consider taking up the 13/8 odds offered by Black Type on under 1.5 goals.