A depleted Albion will hope to make home advantage count in their play-off bid after a tough time on the road, as arch-rivals Crystal Palace visit the Amex on Sunday.
A second successive away defeat, this time at the hands of relegation-threatened Barnsley, brought to an end a frustrating week away from the Amex, with the Seagulls now one point adrift of the play-off places – whilst they also have a severe striker shortage to contend with. What a great time to tackle your bitter, auto-promotion chasing rivals, eh?
Whilst they looked to be faltering somewhat in the early part of 2013, Ian Holloway’s Eagles have gotten their promotion push firmly back on track thanks to their formidable home form, where they are enviably free-scoring. The same cannot always be said away from Selhurst, however, as they’ve recently struggled to find the net on their travels. So there is hope yet for the Albion, in this monumental clash.
Gus Poyet says his side will need to be on top form at both ends of the pitch to emerge victorious in this one.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “This was always the biggest game of the season, regardless of if we were top of the table or at the bottom. It was always the biggest one because it’s the game that the fans really want to win and want to enjoy. It’s the one that everyone demands the players win.
“For me, I just want a normal game with no mistakes and no bad decisions from the ref. I want us to do everything we can to win the game because we need the points and because we are playing against Palace.
“They have a group of players who have been playing together for a while and they have a manager who wants to play as many forwards as he can.
“We need to take advantage of the situation and do everything we can to win. You need to be smart, organised and take chances to win football games.
“Their keeper has been outstanding and one of their key players and Glenn [Murray] been scoring for fun so we need to try and make sure that they don’t have the best of days.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Ashley Barnes has discovered his fate on the suspension front, with the striker set to serve a 7-match ban from this point, as Leo Ulloa continues as Albion’s only first team striker for the forseeable.
Right-back Bruno has been ruled out, so Inigo Calderon looks likely to deputise, whilst Vicente and Wayne Bridge both ‘have a chance’. Adam El-Abd serves a 2-match suspension, so Gordon Greer will step in.
Player to watch: Leonardo Ulloa
With the weight on Leo’s shoulders ever-increasing, owing to the current striker crisis at the club – the Argentine will become an instant hero if he can inspire the Seagulls to victory on Sunday. A powerful presence in the air, Ulloa thrives on accurate service from wide areas.
Crystal Palace Team News:
Stephen Dobbie will be forced to sit out, with the on-loan striker ineligible to face his parent club – meaning veteran poacher Kevin Phillips may feature from the start.
Holloway has right-back Jazz Richards (toe) available, however fellow defenders Paddy McCarthy and Joel Ward remain sidelined. Midfielder Owen Garvan also misses out.
Player to watch: Glenn Murray
Err.. we all know the story by now.
Past Meetings & Stats
Albion’s recent record against Palace does not make for great reading – the South Londoners have been put to the sword just the once in the last 8 meetings.
Furthermore, the Seagulls have not tasted success on Sussex soil for almost 15 years – the last win occuring in the 1988/89 Division 2 season.
Craig Pawson (yep, I know) takes charge of this one.