At some point at the AMEX on Saturday, possibly after the home fans have allowed themselves to be excited by the appearance of a seagull, a chant of ‘if you all hate Palace clap your hands’ will emerge from all four corners of the ground.
It’s factors like that shared rivalry with the Croydon club, any foe of Crystal Palace is a friend of mine, that have drawn Charlton Athletic and Brighton and Hove Albion close. It’s fair to say that both clubs have a reasonable amount of respect for the other.
Away from the somewhat juvenile hating of Palace, there’s also the substantial pain of being without a ground to properly call home for several years that both clubs have suffered. Both know how important it is to have a ground to be proud of – whether that be the plush new AMEX or a cleaned up Valley.
This season, both have shared the experience of seeing a new head coach pull together a new side. Charlton have recruited nine players for boss Bob Peeters, while Sami Hyypia and Brighton took their tally up to 12 this week.
And, resultantly, there’s also a degree of uncertainty among both sets of supporters as to just how good their new sides are. For Brighton, a worrying beginning has been followed by three creditable results, while Charlton’s blistering start has slowed down in the past week.
It’s with all that in mind that Charlton’s trip to the South Coast is as highly anticipated as ever. The right amount of excitement, positivity and worry occupies the thoughts of those on both sides.
Do we have to? I’m trying to forget it ever happened.
Well, if we must, Charlton weren’t very good and Brighton took advantage. When I say ‘weren’t very good’, I mean the Addicks showed very little fight and absolutely no quality as the Albion routinely romped to a 3-0 victory at the AMEX in April.
Even Diego Poyet, strangely booed for being the son of/better than Gus, had a horrendous day; at fault for Brighton’s first goal and not offering a lot else throughout the game.
A miserable day was compounded by some questionable behaviour from Charlton fans, which included a section calling Dale Stephens every name under the sun.
Let’s never speak of that day again.
After following up a defeat to Sheffield Wednesday with becoming the first side to lose at St. Andrews since records began, panic and worry has turned to positivity at Brighton. League wins over Leeds and Bolton, a hard thought cup success over Swindon after extra time and a signing or five have left the Albion in confident mood.
After an incredible performance in victory over Derby, a dreadful display against Huddersfield, from which they were lucky to sneak a point from, and a lifeless defeat to the Rams in the cup have brought Charlton fans slightly back down to earth. Play poorly in this one and doubts will start to creep in; win and the past week will quickly be removed from the record books.
Sam Baldock is in line for his first appearance for the Seagulls, having joined the club from Bristol City in the week. The prolific forward, regularly linked to the Addicks over the past three seasons, will be competing with Craig Mackail-Smith and Chris O’Grady, another former Charlton target, for a starting birth in attack.
There may also be league debuts for midfielder Gary Gardner, signed on loan from Aston Villa, and forward Adrian Colunga, snapped up from Spanish club Getafe.
Albion, however, will be without regular Charlton tormentor Kazenga Lua Lua, who picked up a knock in midweek, and former Addick Stephens, who has a long term injury.
Goalkeeper Stephen Henderson has returned to training after picking up a hamstring injury against Wigan Athletic a fortnight ago, but some doubt remains as to whether the 26-year-old will be fit enough to start at the AMEX.
Peeters will make a decision on whether the former West Ham stopper will travel after his side have trained on Friday, and Nick Pope will continue to deputise should Charlton’s number one be unable to play.
The Addicks have no other injury problems, so should remain unchanged from their draw with Huddersfield, regardless of the performance. However, should Peeters look to make changes, then Michael Morrison, Frank Moussa and Lawrie Wilson will all be pushing to start.
KEY BATTLE – CHARLTON STOPPING JOAO TEIXEIRA’S CREATIVITY
Whether it be dad of Diego, a super suave Spaniard or a former cultured centre back in charge of Brighton, their style of play rarely changes. Ball retention, dominance in midfield and a handful of players to provide a creative spark are central to the Albion’s game plan; the number of midfielders, most with creative qualities, signed by the club this summer show exactly that.
And the most important creative source for the Seagulls would appear to be Liverpool loanee Joao Teixeira. In addition to providing some telling passes, the Portuguese has two goals already for his new club.
If the Addicks are to keep Brighton at bay, stopping the source will be vital.
The signings Brighton have made in recent weeks makes them an incredibly strong force, regardless of whether the Charlton of Derby at home or Huddersfield away turns up. A draw would be a very creditable result, and a point is what I see the Addicks picking up. Brighton and Hove Albion 2-2 Charlton Athletic