Palace have won three of their last five games, with Wilfried Zaha firing on all cylinders, and Roy Hodgson‘s men can almost see light at the end of the tunnel in their battle against relegation.
Brighton are just three points and two places behind Palace, but Chris Hughton knows his team aren’t in great form and a win in this derby would be hugely important for momentum in the final months of the season.
Brighton & Hove Albion are likely no more than five points from having done enough to avoid relegation from the Premier League this season, and the Seagulls have an eminently winnable FA Cup quarterfinal matchup with Championship side Millwall next weekend. By every realistic measure, 2018-19 will go down as a successful second season back in England’s top flight. Chris Hughton‘s side could just about take care of those required points when they visit Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), and complete the league double over the Eagles in the process.
After knocking off Huddersfield Town at home last weekend, Brighton are in search of back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 1 and 4, a stretch of 13 games without so much as a sniff of consistency (two wins in 13, including eight losses).
Palace, on the other hand, have lost just one of their last six while winning three during that same stretch. Roy Hodgson has done a decent enough job to guide his boyhood in his first full season in charge, and the Eagles will feel they’ve already done enough to stay up with a victory on Saturday.
Michy Batshuayi has proven an inspired loan signing for Palace after scoring a goal in two of his last three games — both of which were victories — at the end of the January transfer window. Speaking of inspiration, winger Wilfried Zaha has bagged four goals in four games — 2W-1D-1L — since Batshuayi’s arrival. The two of them are clearly enjoying playing together.
“I told him, ‘Bro, once you get that first goal, they start coming from nowhere,'” Zaha said of Batshuayi. “I’m happy to see him on the scoresheet.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson, on retirement: “They are not thoughts that I wish to entertain. I have no wish to entertain them. I don’t feel the need in any way to entertain them.I live in the present, basically. I try to make certain my life is as good as it can be at any given moment in time, doing what I’ve got to be doing and living my life the right way. In moments like this, where fortunately that is very much the case, I just try to profit from it without trying to get the crystal ball out and think what will it be like in March 2020.”
Brighton forward Glenn Murray, on stockpiling points: “We realized the magnitude of (facing Huddersfield), and we understand that. (In recent games) things were going against us slightly, and it was just about keeping our cool, going back to basics and (stop) conceding goals. There’s still plenty to do, we’re not home and hosed yet.”
While Palace have been in good form of late, they’ve done most of their damage away from home (just one win in their last six at Selhurst Park). On the other side, Brighton haven’t won away from home in six tries. Each happy to take a point toward their season total, this one has draw written all over it.
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City’s back atop our rankings and the Premier League table. Here are the 19 clubs staring up at the reigning champions.
20. Huddersfield Town — Thirteen points back means any hope of a miracle run to safety needs to include a win over Bournemouth this weekend. Last week: 19 Season high: 16 Season low: 20
19. Fulham — Can Scott Parker lead a surprise defeat of Leicester? It’s looking like this has to be a win. Last week: 20 Season high: 11 Season low: 20
18. Cardiff City — Will the Bluebirds catch West Ham sleeping? Points need to come quickly to Wales, who will then face Brighton before two Top Four tests. Last week: 18 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
17. Burnley — A trip to wounded Liverpool seems… not ideal. Last week: 16 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
16. Southampton — Have to be hoping Spurs are tired from their trip to Germany at midweek. Last week: 15 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
15. Brighton and Hove Albion — Chris Hughton‘s men would love to take another step toward safety by winning away in the M23 Derby. Last week: 17 Season high: 9 Season low: 19
14. Newcastle United — West Ham is a quality club and Rafa Benitez will be wondering what he might’ve done had he the resources of Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons. Last week: 14 Season high: 13 Season low: 19
13. Leicester City — So it turns out that win with Brendan Rodgers in the stands gave way to a loss with him planning a trip to Watford. Baby steps this week would be nice. Last week: 10 Season high: 7 Season low: 13
12. Bournemouth — Didn’t really challenge Man City in a 1-0 loss; Anything less than a decisive win over Huddersfield may see the Cherries dip to a season low. Last week: 13 Season high: 6 Season low: 14
11. Crystal Palace — Using the M23 Derby to more or less clinch Premier League safety would be so sweet for Roy Hodgson and Co. given the past two seasons’ ups and downs. Last week: 12 Season high: 6 Season low: 17
10. Everton — Will a fine performance in the Merseyside Derby fade into disappointment at Newcastle United? That’s kinda been Everton under Marco Silva, but this late in the season may see the Toffees straighten out the boat. Last week: 11 Season high: 5 Season low: 15
9. Wolves — Nuno Espirito Santo has instilled a battler’s mentality in his men, but consistency has evaded the Midlands bunch. Now comes Chelsea, but fortunately Watford will tangle with Man City. Last week: 7 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
8. West Ham United — A 1-0 loss to Man City from sitting a point back of seventh. Look out Cardiff City. Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20
7. Watford — Still maddeningly inconsistent, yet you wouldn’t bet against them pushing City to the brink this weekend. Last week: 8 Season high: 4 Season low: 14
6. Spurs — It’s hard to see this six knowing that Tottenham has thrived in the Champions League, but Spurs have taken one point of nine to throw their Top Four credentials into the frying pan. Last week: 5 Season high: 2 Season low: 8
5. Arsenal — If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang makes his late penalty, the Gunners are knocking on the door of third-place Spurs. Last week: 5 Season high: 2 Season low: 9
4. Chelsea — On balance of talent, you’d peg Chelsea to finish Top Four. Will the Blues pass a stiff test from capable visitors Wolves on Sunday? Last week: 6 Season high: 1 Season low: 7
3. Manchester United — The Red Devils may have a chance to climb level on points with Spurs by beating Arsenal, but a loss at the Emirates may see United as low as sixth. This race for the Top Four is going to be intense. Last week: 3 Season high: 3 Season low: 14
2. Liverpool — Believe it or not, the reality that Liverpool should still be able to win the Premier League will be taxed more by its manager’s ability to find the right mentality than its players; The Reds will possibly play a half-dozen more matches than Man City. Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 4
1. Manchester City — “No excuses,” says Pep Guardiola. City will have them if they fail to win the Premier League, but its boss is striking a pre-emptive note. Last week: 2 Season high: 1 Season low: 3
At the start of the second half Palace doubled their lead in fine fashion. Aaron Wan Bissaka raced down the right and delivered a perfect cross for Batshuayi to hammer home his second goal in his last three Palace games.
Burnley piled the pressure on Palace, as Barnes missed from close range but the Eagles were happy to deal with plenty of long balls and crosses into their box.
20. Fulham — The last time Fulham fired a pair of managers in the same season, well, they got relegated. The hiring of Scott Parker may just be a, “Let’s see if you’ve got the stuff to lead us back next season.” Last week: 19 Season high: 11 Season low: 20
19. Huddersfield Town — A feel-good win for Jan Siewart at the John Smith’s Stadium against a very good Wolves team. Maybe they have a shot at survival? Almost certainly not, but maybe. Last week: 20 Season high: 16 Season low: 20
18. Cardiff City — As the Bluebirds slip into the Bottom Three, their remaining fixtures pick up in caliber of opponent. Uh oh? Last week: 15 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
17. Brighton and Hove Albion — In danger/eligible for the unlikely “Win a cup, qualify for Europe, get relegated” combination. Last week: 18 Season high: 9 Season low: 19
16. Burnley — Looking down after an 8-match unbeaten run to clearly see the drop zone is alarming. Last week: 14 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
15. Southampton — Ralphampton lives. Last week: 17 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
14. Newcastle United — There’s a world in which Rafa Benitez wins Manager of the Year, Miguel Almiron makes Mike Ashley realize the potential of a spending Newcastle, and next season does not involve a relegation fight. It’s somewhere, like the old TV show “Fringe,” and we bet there’s a lot of Geordies who would like to drag it through the breach. Last week: 16 Season high: 13 Season low: 19
13. Bournemouth — Since starting 6-2-2, the Cherries have collected 14 points. Not good, Ed. Not good. Last week: 9 Season high: 6 Season low: 14
12. Crystal Palace — Maybe this is Roy Hodgson‘s last Palace hurrah, but he’s getting a job done. Last week: 10 Season high: 6 Season low: 17
11. Everton — How huge would a Merseyside Derby result be for both the Toffees and the title race? Monumental. Last week: 13 Season high: 5 Season low: 15
10. Leicester City — I’m not sure that Brendan Rodgers fixes anything, but the Foxes are better than what they showed under Claude Puel. Last week: 12 Season high: 7 Season low: 13
9. West Ham United — Manuel Pellegrini‘s done a fine job, but needs to pile up points over the next four matches to give the Irons a legit shot at seventh. Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 20
8. Watford — What is this team? Last week: 8 Season high: 4 Season low: 14
7. Wolves — A dry patch has seen Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men claim just two of nine available points while losing to Huddersfield Town and drawing Newcastle and Bournemouth. We hate to say it, but that could be it for their European aspirations given Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United on the back end. Last week: 6 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
6. Chelsea — That was a quality win against Spurs. You might even call it a Kepa (We’ll be here all night). Last week: 7 Season high: 1 Season low: 7
5. Spurs — There’s a school of thought that Spurs have overachieved in their continued finishes inside the Top Three, but this season feels like a couple of colossal missed opportunities. One was the summer transfer window, and the other is the last five days. Last week: 3 Season high: 2 Season low: 8
4. Arsenal — They are fun again, yeah, but the Gunners also very much carry the vibe that Arsene Wenger left behind (both the good and bad parts). We kinda want to see Unai Emery, Season 2 without seeing any more of the first edition. Last week: 5 Season high: 2 Season low: 9
3. Manchester United — *New season high*— Fun again. And we’ve also learned through the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era that the Ed Woodward redemption tour is a thing; This roster, even with its lack of spending on defenders, gave the Red Devils enough to compete in England. Last week: 4 Season high: 3 Season low: 14
2. Manchester City — Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Will Liverpool open the door? Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 3
1. Liverpool — The fact is that Liverpool’s point against Manchester United gives it an advantage only exceeded by one other facet; Liverpool may only have Premier League matches on its docket within a couple of weeks, while Man City remains alive in three competitions. Last week: 2 Season high: 1 Season low: 4