Monday 22nd February 2021
In Across the Leagues today:
It’s unfair to call Crystal Palace a ‘one-man team.’ Such a phrase is always going to be reductive. It’s a team sport, after all. That are 11 players on the pitch…
But it’s hard, too, to ignore the Palace form when Wilfried Zaha isn’t in the team. Zaha is injured, and will be missing for tonight’s trip to Brighton.
Today’s match preview on the BBC Sport website sets out the narrative for this one. The headline image is captioned:
‘Crystal Palace have lost all five league matches this season when Wilfried Zaha hasn't played.’
Both the Beeb and Sky Sports drill home the message, with another damning statistic:
‘Palace have lost 18 of their last 20 league matches without Wilfried Zaha, failing to score in 16 of those defeats.’
That’s the story, then. Palace are a one-man team. They can’t win without Zaha. If and when they sell him, their Premier League days will be numbered.
You can, of course, spin football figures in many different directions. And descend into trivia…
For example, we can also learn from mainstream media today that Palace under Roy Hodgson have never won on a Monday. While Brighton have never won a Premier League Monday-night game, full stop…
So, that does that tell us? It’s going to be a draw? Both teams are going to lose?!
Premier League – 8pm, Sky Sports
In terms of the Match Result betting, the bookmakers have understandably installed Brighton as odds-on favourites for the Home Win this evening. The Seagulls are 8/11 (1.73) in general.
Back to spinning the stats whichever way you fancy. Brighton are unbeaten in 6 games, and have kept 5 Clean Sheets in that run. On the other hand, Graham Potter’s side have won just one of 11 Premier League home games this season…
Palace have won 4 times on the road. And sit above Brighton in the table.
Looking beyond the Win-Lose-or-Draw market, Under 2.5 Goals is a strong contender on recent form:
Under 2.5 Goals is priced at 4/6 (1.67).
And if we add in the ‘M23 derby’ factor here, and look at recent meetings between these rival clubs:
In our Premier League Predictions table for this game, I’ve gone for another 1-1. My colleague Shaun has gone Brighton 1-0. And Mark Lawrenson at the BBC is saying Brighton 2-0.
In the Correct Score market, those options are the three favourites. With the Bet365 prices showing 1-0 at 11/2 (6.5), 1-1 at 6/1 (7.0), and 2-0 at 7/1 (8.0).
In my Across the Leagues analysis, I’m always on the lookout for angles that veer away from the mainstream ‘narrative.’ For example, rather than the story panning out as Palace are a one-man team. What about, who could fill Zaha’s boots tonight?
Eberechi Eze is a player on the up. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has started and played every minute of each of Palace’s last 8 games. With the Eagles hit by so many injuries, that pattern is likely to continue.
The Team Stats on our website show that Zaha is Palace’s leading man for Anytime Scorer bets, with 7 payouts in the Premier League this season. Eze is next in line, with 3 Anytime payouts (as well as one First Goalscorer result, and 2 x Last Goalscorer).
On the official Premier League website, Eze is ranked No.3 for Palace for Shots, behind Zaha, and striker Christian Benteke.
In Crystal Palace’s last 10 games in all comps, they’ve scored a total of 8 goals. The only men to account for more than one of those goals are Zaha, and Eze, with 2 apiece in that time.
At 6/1, Eze is my outsider pick to score Anytime tonight.
Other markets to consider on the Palace youngster: 16/1 to score First (Bet365). And 7/4 (2.75) with Skybet to have ‘1+ Shot on Target.’
One area where I’m keen to follow the stats on the home team tonight is Brighton on the -3 Corner Handicap…
I put up Brighton twice last month for the Most Corners. With a 10-0 corners win in a goalless draw v Fulham. And a dominant 9-2 corners tally in a 1-0 victory against Tottenham.
Since then, the Seagulls have played one more home game in the league, again winning the corners by a clear margin, 9-2, in another 0-0 draw, this time v Aston Villa.
Those recent results at the Amex frank the season-long Most Corners form displayed on our website. Brighton have the best home record in the Premier League in that department, with a 92% strike-rate.
In comparison, Palace have won the Most Corners in just 2 of 12 away games (17%).
Brighton are short odds-on for the Most Corners or Corners Match Bet tonight, at 1/3 (1.33) with Skybet and 1/4 (1.25) with Bet365.
The -3 Corner Handicap is a more appealing option, available at 11/10 and better (2.1+). Graham Potter’s side have covered that in 4 of their last 6 home league games – against Villa, Spurs, Fulham, and Sheffield United.
Opponents have beaten a -3 Corner Handicap in 3 of Palace’s 4 Premier League away games since the turn of the year. With corner tallies of 9-1 at Newcastle, 11-1 at Man City, and 7-3 at Arsenal.
Head-2-Head Corners stats for Brighton Home v Palace Away, taken from our website:
From the analysis above, here are my picks for today…
Brighton v Crystal Palace
We’ve got another busy week of domestic and European football to look forward to. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the Champions League, and the midweek English Football League coupon.
Enjoy the football…