The M23 Showdown

Crystal Palace travel to Brighton and Hove Albion tomorrow night in what will be a pulsating showdown between two arch enemies in the Premier League.

Dating back many moons ago to the days of Alan Mullery and Malcolm Allison, the M23 rivalry has intensified to extreme hatred and bitterness between the two clubs. The AMEX Stadium is set to play host to the first derby game between Palace and Brighton in the Premier League era.

The home side will likely be slight favourites after enjoying an excellent debut campaign in the Premier League so far. Defying expectations and more than holding their own, Albion look at home in the Premier League and have become a more steady outfit than their arch rivals Palace this season. Brighton will be buoyant by their recent impressive form, despite falling short of luck in an undeserved 0-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday. They sit comfortably in mid-table and will fancy their chances tomorrow evening.

Palace, however, will be brimming with positivity themselves. Mamadou Sakho’s dramatic late winner against Stoke City at the weekend saw the Eagles finally secure a second league win of the season and are now breathing down the necks of the sides above. Considering expectation levels and confidence in recent weeks, the South London side should be desperate for a win which will do miracles for momentum.

A one-off fixture and a highly emotional game, both sides should be wary of a derby fixture and the implications of defeat. A win would make Palace’s season whereas a defeat for Brighton may shatter their confidence.

Palace will be delighted to see the return to fitness of many of their previously missing stars as the injuries begin to dry up. Christian Benteke is back in contention for a starting spot after returning from a two-month lay-off. Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha may continue up front with a midfield four behind them. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Yohan Cabaye have been a revelation in midfield recently with James Tomkins returning to partner Mamadou Sakho at the back.

From a Palace perspective, tomorrow’s game will be a test of our players’ progression since Hodgson took over. Despite results slowly improving and stronger performances by the week, it would be foolish to jump the gun and get ahead of ourselves. Every time things begin to look rosy, it goes back down to the bottom with anger and pain. We should 100% be confident of winning tomorrow, but so should Brighton. On our day, if we show up and turn in a performance we know these players are capable of, we should win. The luck has to change our way at some point. Against Stoke, maybe there was evidence it was?

Let’s believe in ourselves and take the points. 1-2 COYP.

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