Graham Potter eager to experience first home derby against Crystal Palace

Brighton head coach Graham Potter admits he is excited by the prospect of his first home match against rivals Crystal Palace.

Friday, 28th February 2020, 6:14 pm
Updated Friday, 28th February 2020, 6:16 pm
Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace and Graham Potter's Brighton drew at Selhurst Park earlier this season

Potter, 44, is in his first season in charge of the Seagulls and experienced the rivalry for the first time in December when his side earned a point from a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park.

The clash takes on added importance on Saturday lunchtime, with Brighton just four points above the Premier League relegation zone and with games to come against Wolves, Arsenal and Leicester next month, and there are meetings with Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City in April.

"We're excited for it. I must admit, I enjoyed the atmosphere at Selhurst Park - which was my first experience of it," said Potter.

Wilfried Zaha scored a late equaliser for Palace to earn a 1-1 draw against Brighton last December

"We want to try and win of course but I'm sure Palace will have the same thought. My message to the fans is to enjoy the game and get behind the team in the right way. They can help us get three points, and we know what it means to them.

"We got a draw at Selhurst Park but now we want to turn one point into three if we can. We will need a bit of luck and we will need to play well, of course."

Asked about Brighton's tough-looking fixtures for the remainder of the campaign, Potter said: "We've beaten Arsenal, we've beaten Tottenham. We've had good results. You just focus on the next game coming up and don't plan or predict what may or may not happen in the future."

Brighton have been boosted by the return of Dale Stephens ahead of the Palace clash. The midfielder, who missed the last two matches against Watford and Sheffield United, is available after recovering from a groin injury.

Brighton striker Neal Maupay is back among the goals having scored against Sheffield United last week

Teenager Tariq Lamptey, who continues to impress in training, and Alexis Mac Allister are also fit and looking for a place Potter's squad, which leaves Jose Izquierdo (knee) as the only absentee.

Attack

Potter also feels Neal Maupay and Glenn Murray provide ample options in the club's fight for Premier League survival.

Potter has been alternating the two strikers in recent weeks, but paired Maupay with Murray for only the second time this season. Maupay responded with a well taken goal to earn a point at Bramall Lane.

"Both can play together or on their own, we're lucky to have both of them and they're different types of players in their own right."

Brighton are seven matches without a win in the Premier League, drawing the last three, and they head into Saturday's lunchtime kick-off four points above the relegation zone.

Potter has called on the supporters to play their part in helping the team return to winning ways against their rivals.

"My message to the fans is to enjoy the game and get behind the team in the right way in order to help us get the three points," he said.

"It's a big game for our fans. I understand that football is an emotional experience and that people can get disappointed or frustrated, but our fans are fair-minded and know we need them.

"They've been brilliant with us so far this season and we want to give them something to cheer this Saturday."