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January 22 2019 11.22am

Key clashes: Palace v Brighton

April 12 2018

James Tomkins

James Tomkins

Ahead of a huge fixture for Crystal Palace against arch-rivals Brighton, Hunter Young breaks down the player match-ups that could define the game.

Luka Milivojevic v Pascal Grob

Pascal Grob has proven a key cog for the Seagulls after joining on a cheap transfer in the summer after his former club FC Ingolstadt 04 was relegated from the Bundesliga. The German midfielder has proven to be an effective playmaker with five goals and eight assists in the league. Limiting the creative impact of Grob will be key to Palace emerging on top in this match.

Luka Milivojevic will be the man most responsible for corralling Grob and has been experiencing a rich run of form recently, with goals in five of the last 10 games. The Serbian captain will be key on both ends of the pitch and could be called on to take a penalty when the derby match gets predictably scrappy.

Christian Benteke v Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy has emerged as the centre-back partner to Brighton youth system graduate Lewis Dunk this season. While Dunk is the more well-known of the defenders, Duffy’s presence in the air will make him the man tasked with limiting Christian Benteke.

While Benteke could face a late test of his groin to determine if he is fit for this match, there was no indication that the injury would keep him out longer than a week. If the Belgian plays, winning the aerial duels with Duffy will be necessary. While Benteke has struggled in front of goal this season his flick-ons have been excellent and will come in handy against the south coast outfit.

Glenn Murray v James Tomkins

Glenn Murray has been a pleasant surprise for the Seagulls this season, scoring 11 goals across 30 appearances. The former Palace man netted against the Eagles in the FA Cup tie in January and will be looking to do the same in this weekend’s match.

James Tomkins has been arguably the most important Palace player this season. The centre-back should be a front runner for player of the year and his presence at the back has been essential in the climb towards safety. Tomkins will need to be on top of his game Saturday to ensure the experienced and savvy Murray doesn’t find the back of the net.

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