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Loftus Cheek discovered the full impact when somebody asked Wilfried Zaha ‘How much do you hate Brighton on a scale of one to 10?’ Zaha replied: “11 out of 10.”

The fixture marks the first time the clubs meet in the top flight since April 18 1981, when Brighton won 3-0 at Palace.

“A few of the players have been educating me on the rivalry, and I know it has become a massive game. I didn’t know much about it before,” said Loftus-Cheek, who is on loan from Chelsea.

“What Wilf said told me everything. He just said the two teams don’t like each other, so now of course I’m really looking forward to it.”

Zaha has grown up with the rivalry, has had good days and bad days against the Seagulls, and said: “I got stick even in the warm ups, so I’m looking forward to playing them again. The atmosphere is these matches are crazy. I can’t compare it to anything.

“As soon as you step out onto the pitch its game on, and I’m sure we will all be very focussed on that.

“All the players know the importance of it by now, and we do speak about it among ourselves. Everyone is well aware how big a game it is.”

The fierce rivalry between the clubs began in the mid-1970s but although Palace won their last meeting in the 2013 play-off semi-final, Brighton, in their first season in the Premier League, have the whip hand in their four top division meetings, with three wins and a draw.

Roy Hodgson’s bottom of the table side have yet to win a point or score away from home…



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