Sky Sports pundit makes bold prediction for Brighton & Hove Albion's Premier League derby with Crystal Palace
Charlie Nicholas anticipates a tough battle ahead for Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace as the former Arsenal man returned with his latest round of Premier League predictions.
Brighton welcome Palace to the Amex Stadium for Saturday's early kick-off at 12.30pm. Graham Potter's Albion produced a determined display last week to draw 1-1 at Sheffield United. They are four points above the relegation zone and victory against their old rivals Palace would be a significant boost to their survival chances.
Roy Hodgson's Palace have enjoyed a solid season and are five points above Albion and nine points away from the drop zone. Last week they recorded their first win of 2020 with a 1-0 win against Newcastle.
"It is a good game as these matches are always feisty," said Nicholas, writing for his weekly Sky Sports predictions column. "It is a derby, and the fans are very much against each other. These tend to be the games for Wilfried Zaha, where he turns up and makes an impression.
"I looked at Brighton about four weeks ago and thought they could be in trouble. Being neat and tidy is one thing, but having the belief and togetherness to get out of it is another.
"They were always solid at back with Mat Ryan and the defence which includes Lewis Dunk, but the balance has not been right in the last couple of months, they have been gradually sliding down the league.
"I think they will be up for the battle against Crystal Palace as they know what it means to the fans, but that should not matter. They have to go and get it done themselves. This is an opportunity to close the gap on Palace, which stands at five points.
"I am not sure which Palace side will turn up. Roy Hodgson may be getting a new contract, but they need to get it done and over the line now. They are not a team who scores many goals, but I cannot separate them.
"Glenn Murray has come back into the team and could haunt his old club. I am slightly edging towards Brighton but it is hard to work out what is going on there currently.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)