The following was written by James Wootton. Find him on Twitter @JamesWootton95.
4 years, 6 months and 15 days ago, Crystal Palace knocked Brighton & Hove Albion out of the Championship play-offs in their own backyard. Since then, Palace have gone on to assert themselves as Premier League regulars whilst Brighton spent a few more years flirting with promotion until they finally made it to the big time in May.
The ‘M23 derby’ is a strange one, due to the teams being separated by over 45 miles. But the animosity both sets of fans share makes for a cracking atmosphere for Tuesday’s upcoming Premier League fixture.
This will be the first time the sides have met in the top flight since 1981. Brighton’s nickname ‘The Seagulls’ originated from their rivalry with their south London counterparts. During a match in the 1975/76 season, Albion supporters drowned out the visitor's chants of 'Eagles' by producing a louder counter chant of 'Seagulls'.
A key talking point will no doubt be Brighton striker Glenn Murray, who famously left Albion first time around to join Palace. The Eagles chairman, Steve Parish, has recently said about his regret of selling Murray to AFC Bournemouth. His 30 goals during Palace’s promotion year solidified Murray as a fan favourite, and many were disappointed to see him leave.
Palace’s season got off to a horrendous start, without a single point in their opening seven games. But with the return of Wilfried Zaha from injury, and the form of Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, they seem to be turning their season around, winning their most recent game against Stoke City with a stoppage time winner.
Brighton fans would say they’ve had a solid start to life in the Premier League, with the team sitting in the top half of the table on 16 points. Unbeaten at home since the opening day against Manchester City, the Seagulls have been in fine form. One concern would be that they’ve drawn their past three home games, so fans would be eager to get one over the Eagles.
With some tough fixtures coming up over the Christmas period with a defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday, and matches against Tottenham and Chelsea to come, Albion will feel this is an important game and huge opportunity to increase the gap between themselves and the relegation zone. For Palace, every game is a must win now until they get themselves out of trouble. It’s all lined up to be an exciting fixture at The Amex on Tuesday.
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