Crystal Palace travel a short distance to pay a visit to their arch-rivals Brighton and Hove Albion tonight on the south coast, with this being the first Premier League fixture for Patrick Vieira’s side since New Year’s Day.
The rivalry between the two clubs stems from the 1970s after a series of controversial clashes caused a feud between Brighton manager Alan Mullery and Eagles boss Terry Venables.
Current Palace manager Vieira will be hoping to take all three points from the game at the Amex Stadium and move above Leicester City into 10th ahead of the Premier League weekend.
The Frenchman confirmed in his press conference that he is without five senior players for the trip, with James McArthur still out following a hamstring injury from which the £55k-p/w star is yet to recover, despite hope that he would have made a speedier return.
Speaking ahead of the match, Vieira addressed the 32-year-old’s injury and timeframe on a possible return, saying: “There is still a long way to go. I think we’re talking about a couple of weeks.”
Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate are all away with their national teams at the Africa Cup of Nations, while James Tomkins has sustained an injury and the club are waiting on more news as to how long he will be sidelined. However, Vieira is “hopeful” that 6 foot 3 first-choice goalkeeper Vicente Guaita will be available for tonight.
With that being said, we expect two changes to the line-up we saw against the win over Milwall in the FA Cup last weekend, and we think it will look like this…
Despite having only five appearances for Palace this season, we expect that Vieira will give Eberechi Eze the opportunity to remain in the starting line-up after an exemplary performance in the cup win over Milwall.
In terms of the two changes, we can see Jean-Philippe Mateta being swapped out for star striker Odsonne Edouard, who was rested in the cup clash at The Den.
The other change sees Guaita replace Jack Butland in the side, as the Spanish goalkeeper has recovered from a dislocated finger he sustained last month, which ruled him out against Milwall six days ago. The ex-Stoke netminder could have been facing the chop anyway after his goal-causing blunder in Bermondsey.
The rest of the side should stay the same, and Vieira will be hoping that Palace can pick up just their second away league win of the season. A repeat of last year’s 2-1 victory at the Amex wouldn’t go amiss.
In other news: Vieira was dealt this double blow ahead of tonight’s clash