Crystal Palace-Brighton & Hove Albion Preview
Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Adam Lallana described coach Roberto De Zerbi as "special" in the build-up to Wednesday's meeting with historic rivals Crystal Palace.
Lallana put pen to paper on a new one-year contract earlier this week, citing De Zerbi's transformative effect on the Seagulls as a key factor in his decision to stay.
Brighton could leapfrog Liverpool into the Premier League's top six by beating Palace, and Lallana says De Zerbi is among the finest coaches he has worked with.
"To know how much the club itself wanted me to stay was very touching," Lallana said. "I know how smart and strategic these guys are, to know the value they placed on what I can bring really meant a lot.
"Then of course there is our manager, De Zerbi. The faith he's shown in me personally, I don't think I could do justice in words to be honest.
"He is special, really special. I've been blessed to work with great managers in my career and this guy is right up there.
"He teaches, he inspires, he makes teams and individuals better. He's the full package. When he said he wanted me to stay longer there was no way I could turn that down."
While Brighton have enjoyed a remarkable rise under their Italian coach, Palace have been dragged into the relegation battle after a dismal run.
In Saturday's 1-0 loss to Manchester City, Palace became the first team on record (since 2003-04) to fail to register a single shot on target in three consecutive Premier League games.
Boss Patrick Vieira said: "Every game is important, but of course this is the special one because it is a derby. We know how much it means to the football club and the fans.
"We need those ingredients that we had against Manchester City, but also to improve the offensive side."
Brighton and Hove Albion - Alexis Mac Allister
Mac Allister has scored seven goals in 21 Premier League games this season, more than he had in his previous 63 appearances in the competition (six).
After netting against West Ham and Leeds United in his last two outings, the Argentinian is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time.
Crystal Palace - Michael Olise
Overall, Palace have failed to record a shot on target in five different Premier League matches this season - since 2003-04, only West Bromwich Albion (seven in 2015-16) have failed to do so more often in a single campaign in the top-flight.
Vieira's side need some inspiration in the final third. With their out-and-out strikers misfiring, could Olise provide it?
Crystal Palace remain without a Premier League win in 2023, drawing five and losing five of their 10 games since the turn of the year. They are enduring their longest winless league run since a streak of 14 under Alan Pardew between December 2015 and April 2016.
The visitors are therefore considered outsiders when they face Brighton side with three wins in their last four matches at the Amex Stadium, with each victory accompanied by a clean sheet.
However, Brighton are enduring their longest-ever winless run in league meetings with their rivals, failing to beat Palace in the teams' last seven Premier League contests (D5 L2) - the last three have all finished 1-1.
Brighton and Hove Albion 43.5 per cent
Crystal Palace 27.3 per cent
Draw 29.2 per cent
Updated March 14, 2023