Roberto De Zerbi says in-form Brighton and Hove Albion will adopt a “bold, aggressive” approach when they visit rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday.
There is no love lost between long-time rivals Palace and Brighton, and the Seagulls head to Selhurst Park as strong favourites after an excellent run of form put them in European contention.
Brighton are just six points adrift of the Premier League’s top four ahead of the fixture, and De Zerbi says his team will play both the game and the occasion on Saturday.
“I live for this game. It’s an honour to play this game. We must play a bold game, aggressive game, but I don’t want to lose our quality, our style of play,” he said. “The first part of the season has been fantastic in terms of results, in terms of quality of play, and we have to continue in this way. But (Saturday) is a different game.
“The emotions are the most important part of football and we have to feel the emotion in the football. But we have to be clear on the other things, to be focused on the game, on our quality, on our style of play, but we have to feel it’s a different game.”
Palace, meanwhile, are yet to win a league game in 2023, and boss Patrick Vieira knows they need to improve at both ends to ensure their slump does not continue.
“We have to look at the results, and the results haven’t gone the way we wanted,” Vieira said. “Then there’s the other side of analysing the game, with our performances. Our performances in general have been okay.
“We have to be more consistent in our game. We have to be defending better, we have to score those opportunities that we are creating. At the moment, we’re not doing that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
Against no side has Palace winger Zaha scored more goals in his career in English football than he has against Brighton (eight). He’s scored five in his last five appearances against them at Selhurst Park, netting once in each of the last three.
Brighton and Hove Albion – Kaoru Mitoma
Mitoma has been involved in nine goals in his last 12 appearances in all competitions, scoring seven and assisting two. He’s scored in each of his last three outings for the Seagulls, with the last two being winning goals in the 90th and 87th minute respectively.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Brighton and Hove Albion (W2 D4) but are winless in their last four at home against the Seagulls (D3 L1).
– Brighton haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace, though they’ve also failed to score in just one of those nine games.
– Crystal Palace remain winless in the Premier League in 2023 so far (D2 L3), with their last victory coming at Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve. At home, the Eagles are winless since beating Southampton 1-0 in October (D2 L2 since).
– Brighton have won six of their last nine Premier League games (D1 L2), with both defeats in that run coming at home. Since the competition restarted following the World Cup, only Manchester United (17) and Brentford (14) have won more Premier League points than the Seagulls (13).
– Only Arsenal (eight) have won more Premier League away games than Brighton (five) this season, with the Seagulls only winning more on the road in a single top-flight season once before (seven last term).