avian battle between the Seagulls and the Eagles saw the hosts soar while the visitors’ wings were clipped at the Amex Stadium last weekend, where Lewis Dunk, Jack Hinshelwood and Facundo Buonanotte propelled a resurgent Brighton into a 3-0 lead inside just 34 minutes.
A well-taken header by Jean-Philippe Mateta made things interesting heading into the final 20 minutes, but any Palace fans holding on to glimmers of optimism threw those hopes down the drain when Joao Pedro restored Brighton’s four-goal advantage on another deflating afternoon for Roy Hodgson and co.
While the result was disheartening enough, Hodgson’s decision to bring on an unfit Michael Olise – who lasted just over 10 minutes before injury struck again – led to bewilderment and berating from within the Palace faithful and beyond, but the 76-year-old remains in control of the reins for the time being.
Apparently due to a lack of willing candidates, Hodgson’s job is likely safe for the rest of the season, and the 14th-placed Eagles still have a five-point gap to the relegation zone, although their position could become more precarious depending on results on Saturday.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Selhurst Park contingent, though, as they have witnessed their team take seven points from the last nine on offer at home – marching to successive wins over Brentford and Sheffield United with three goals in each contest – but their visitors arrive with a renewed sense of self-assurance.
Hodgson and his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino have both been feeling the heat over the winter period, as the latter witnessed both Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers hit his side for four before an FA Cup fourth-round replay with Aston Villa, who had just put five past Sheffield United without reply.
The die was seemingly cast from the off, but to the surprise of Blues fans and neutral supporters, Pochettino’s men produced one of – if not their best – display of the Argentine’s fledgling reign to advance to the fifth round, as Conor Gallagher, Nicolas Jackson and Enzo Fernandez tamed the Lions.
Still in contention for an FA Cup and EFL Cup double as they gear up to face Liverpool in the final of the latter tournament later this month, Chelsea’s route back into Europe is not entirely closed off, in spite of the fact that they remain in the familiar position of mid-table mediocrity in 11th place.
An unwanted club first could be achieved by Chelsea on Monday night, where the Blues could ship four goals in three successive top-flight games for the first time in the Premier League era, but on the other hand, a desired club record is also up for grabs.
Indeed, the visitors have prevailed in each of their last 12 Premier League matches against Crystal Palace, and should they march to a 13th triumph on the trot here, it would represent Chelsea’s longest winning streak against a single opponent in their entire league history.