Sports Mole previews Monday’s Premier League clash between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Seagulls begin the weekend seven points above the relegation zone after an improved run of form, while Palace have dropped into 14th position courtesy of two successive defeats.
Having put together a talented squad at the Amex Stadium, there is a strong argument that Graham Potter has underachieved since his arrival at Brighton.
However, a six-match undefeated streak has moved the Seagulls away from any immediate trouble, giving their supporters every reason to believe that they can mount a late charge for a mid-table spot.
Finding the back of the net remains an issue for Brighton, who were left frustrated after being unable to turn their dominance into goals during the 0-0 draw with Aston Villa last weekend.
Nevertheless, conceding just one goal at the other end since January 16 represents the best return in the division over that period, a record which Brighton will expect to extend against an injury-hit Palace side.
As well as looking to end a three-match winless streak against the Eagles, Brighton will also move ahead of their rivals on goal difference if they can prevail on the South Coast.
Although Palace sit 10 points clear of the bottom three, manager Roy Hodgson will be concerned that his team could still get sucked into a battle to avoid relegation.
The London side failed to lay a glove on either Leeds United or Burnley in their most recent fixtures, extending a record of five defeats in eight matches.
Their recent results have coincided with Wilfried Zaha spending time out of the team through injury, further highlighting the influence that the long-serving winger has on this team.
Home fixtures against Fulham and West Bromwich Albion before the March international break will provide Palace with opportunities to keep themselves out of trouble.
However, a failure to produce much improved performances over the coming weeks may leave Hodgson with more food for thought heading into the final weeks of the campaign.
Brighton & Hove Albion Premier League form: WDWWDD
Brighton & Hove Albion form (all competitions): DWWDLD
Crystal Palace Premier League form: LLWWLL
With Zaha still sidelined with a knee injury, Hodgson could hand a recall to recent Palace arrival Jean-Philippe Mateta.
James McCarthy has returned to training this week, putting the midfielder in line to feature in the squad.
Adam Webster could be recalled to the Brighton XI after injury, potentially leading to Potter reverting to a back three.
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; White, Dunk, Webster; Veltman, Gross, Bissouma, Burn; Mac Allister, Trossard; Welbeck
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Cahill, Mitchell; Townsend, Milivojevic, Riedeweld, Eze; Benteke, Mateta
We say: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Crystal Palace
Palace are under pressure to deliver a response after two below-par performances and Hodgson will feel that this is the ideal fixture to get back on track. However, Brighton have improved significantly since the turn of the year, leading us to predict a hard-fought win for the home side.
Watch the Sports Mole Football Shorts prediction for this game below:
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