At the start of the season neither of these sides were being hotly tipped for promotion but with nine games remaining in the Championship season Palace are currently fourth on 65 points whilst Brighton are nine points behind in seventh.
When the two teams met in December a Glenn Murray double and a penalty from Owen Garvan were enough to see of the visitors so you can be sure Brighton will be keen to avenge their defeat and keep their promotion push on track.
The hosts come into this looking to secure victory for the first team in three matches. Their last three games have all been away but before that they won three on the bounce including an impressive 2-0 win over league leaders Cardiff. They know these next set of games are vital as they face fellow promotion chasers Nottingham Forest away after Palace before home matches against Charlton and Leicester. For Palace things are going a lot better with only one defeat in their last eight matches. Included in this run was a vital 4-2 home win over second placed Hull. The Eagles’ run in isn’t particularly difficult and they will be looking to use this match as the springboard for a strong finish.
In terms of players making a difference there isn’t really anywhere to start but with Palace’s Glenn Murray. The league’s top scorer this season with 27 Murray is part of a devastating forward line that includes Manchester United bound Wilfried Zaha and veteran forward Kevin Phillips.
How Gus Poyet must wish he had all his strikers fit and available right now. The Seagulls are undergoing a slight striker shortage right now with top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith out for the rest of the season with ligament damage and Ashley Barnes banned for seven games for tripping a referee.
Luckily for Brighton Jose Ulloa seems to be adjusting well to life in England following his January move. The former Almeria striker has five goals in his first nine league appearances and if Brighton are going to get anything out of Sunday’s match he will surely hold the key.
Crystal Palace are starting to put a sizeable gap between themselves and the rest of the chasing back and for this gap to have any chance of being narrowed Brighton have to take all three points on Sunday. The Seagulls can’t afford to lose ground on Nottingham Forest either especially with Bolton, Middlesbrough and Leeds breathing down their necks. Gus Poyet is being strongly linked to the vacant position at Reading right now and it is up to him to get his players focused on the game and the task at hand.
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