Tonight’s fixture at The AMEX Stadium is one that will make history as we will see the the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee for the game between Brighton and Crystal Palace. If it’s not called upon then it will mean the match has passed by with few talking points, but you get the feeling that it will be utilised at some point during the 90 minutes.
It may not be a local derby what with a whole stretch of motorway between the two clubs but it is certainly a very feisty one as Brighton and Crystal Palace once again prepare to face off with a place in the F.A. Cup 4th Round at stake.
The two clubs have already met earlier in the season, with The AMEX being the venue and although there were flashpoints in the build up to the game there was little to write home about on the pitch with the game ending in a goalless stalemate.
The focus for both Chris Hughton and Roy Hodgson this season has been Premier League survival so this encounter will offer something of a welcome break for both managers, but it must be said that Brighton and Crystal Palace are not necessarily in an immediate risk of the drop due to their current league standings.
Brighton come into this game lying 12th in the Premier League although the fact that they have not won any of their last three outings will be a fact that cannot be simply forgotten, their last outing saw them play out an entertaining draw with Bournemouth which finished in a 2-2 draw in front of their own fans.
While Crystal Palace sit two places lower in the table in 14th with a win over Southampton in their last outing being responsible for putting some daylight between themselves and the bottom three, it needed a late winner at St Mary’s otherwise they would be sitting in 17th going into this highly anticipated tie.
The question will be as to just how strong each of the lineups will be, it’s obvious that this is not the top of their priorities so you will have to anticipate a raft of changes, at the same time though neither manager will want to give their opposite number a free pass this evening.
Progression in the cup would obviously be welcomed but whisper it quietly and the losing outfit may well consider it a burden of their backs, the last thing either club will want is a replay and the additional fixture that will subsequently come with it.
Brighton will have the slight edge what with them being at home this evening but Palace come into the game with the better form. Add in the likelihood of wholesale changes and it is anyone’s guess just as to who comes out on top, let’s just hope that it is not the Video Assistant Referee that is making the headlines tonight.