It is one of the strangest yet fiercest rivalries in football, but this year’s meeting between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion at Selhurst Park will take on even greater significance.
Rather than being a result of geographical promixity or years of head-to-head battles for the game’s biggest prizes, the bad blood between these two can be traced all the way back to a Third Division campaign in 1976.
Terry Venables was appointed Palace boss in July and the Seagulls hired Alan Mullery shortly afterwards, with both men expected to guide their respective teams to promotion.
There was plenty of needle between the former Tottenham team-mates as five dramatic and tempestuous meetings ensued during the season in all competitions.
Both eventually won promotion – although not as champions – but a rivalry which has stuck ever since was born.
Fast forward to the present day and with both sides already enjoying spells at the top of the Championship this season, the need for points, not to mention bragging rights, is huge for each set of fans.
(Speaking of bragging rights, you will have to excuse me slightly at this point for mentioning the 12/1 midweek winner I provided in my preview of the 1-1 draw between Derby and Cardiff – I hope some bwinbetting readers cashed in too.)
Anyhow, Ian Holloway’s new team have the most pressing promotion claims and can return to the summit if they win and the Bluebirds slip up this weekend, so Palace rightly start as 13/10 favourites in bwin’s 3Way betting market.
But with Brighton returning to some of their early-season form by going seven games unbeaten, they arguably represent good value at 2/1, while the draw is at 11/5.
In fact, with over a quarter of all Eagles-Seagulls encounters down the years finishing all square, it’s worth backing draw/draw at half-time/full-time at 4/1.
Last year’s corresponding match was a tale of two penalties as Albion came from behind to claim a point and it’s 3/1 for a lead-draw repeat this weekend.
New customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin would win £120 if there’s another 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park.
Despite the attacking talent on show, including England international Wilfried Zaha and Scotland striker Craig Mackail-Smith, the desire to avoid defeat means 91/100 for a tight game of under 2.5 goals is worth backing.
In that environment, the opening goal will be key and with Palace’s record of striking first in 100% of their home fixtures so far this term, 83/100 for the Eagles to draw first blood looks another cracking short-priced option.
But with Albion needing to maintain their play-off push and their fans demanding a result, I’m sticking with them to save a point in a 1-1 draw at 5/1.