The FourFourTwo Preview: Crystal Palace vs Burnley
Colin’s Selhurst homecoming! But hold the cake and candles.
CRYSTAL PALACE FORM
- Newcastle 3-3 Palace (Prem)
- Walsall 0-3 Palace (LC)
- Palace 1-3 West Ham (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-1 Palace (Prem)
- Augsburg 0-0 Palace (F)
- Burnley 0-0 Man Utd (Prem)
- Burnley 0-1 Sheff Wed (LC)
- Swansea 1-0 Burnley (Prem)
- Burnley 1-3 Chelsea (Prem)
- Burnley 3-1 Hellas Verona (F)
Crystal Palace might be in a better place since Neil Warnock last took charge of an Eagles side at Selhurst Park, but the south Londoners’ divisive (old) new boss has a tough job of a different magnitude on his hands these days. Warnock left a stricken Palace for QPR in February 2010, with the Eagles swamped in financial uncertainty and staring at relegation from the Championship thanks to a 10-point deduction. At the time, however, his departure raised a much-needed £500,000 to help see them through the season.
Palace survived on the final day that year thanks to a 2-2 draw against Sheffield Wednesday (effectively a relegation play-off), and ushered in a new era that summer led by current chairman Steve Parish. Four summers on Warnock is back, and Palace are underway in their Difficult Second Season.
The Yorkshireman’s first game at Newcastle went relatively well in that they got a point at Newcastle and scored three times; not so much in that they conceded as many to make it eight shipped for the season already. Basically, think of Crystal Palace from last season and then forget it all immediately.
It’s all good, though, because they’re going to score more goals than last time. Dwight Gayle is bang in form with four goals in his last two, Wilfried Zaha is back in town and the Eagles have a new strikeforce in Kevin Doyle and Andy Johnson. (What do you mean it’s not 2006?)
Never mind, Burnley might be forgiving. After all, the Clarets have only scored in one of their four games this season (including a home League Cup defeat to Wednesday), although Sean Dyche’s side were good value for a point against Manchester United at Turf Moor before the international break.
Few people will expect them to move much from their current spot propping up the rest, but Dyche admits being written off is nothing new. "I think the fans know the script," he said. "They know we're underdogs in virtually every game, if not every game we play. But they [the fans] have got a group of players who will be relentless and give everything to win football matches."
After a tough start, though, coming up are five matches Dyche’s men will feel they can take points from: this one, Sunderland (h), West Brom (a), Leicester (a) and West Ham (h). After that we’ll have a much better idea of what Burnley are made of.
If you’ve got this far you might be interested to know that this hasn’t been a top-flight fixture since 1970/71, when Burnley won both games but were relegated anyway. They haven’t won at Selhurst since December 2001, stretching back nine games.
Gayle (ankle) and Joe Ledley (groin) should return for Palace after niggles, but striker Marouane Chamakh is still sidelined with a hamstring problem.
Burnley’s injury worries are almost non-existent, with only long-term absentee Sam Vokes busying the physio.
Player to watch: Wilfried Zaha (Palace)
When Warnock claimed that "Wilfried needs us like we need Wilfried," he was right. Palace did good business by clawing back the 21-year-old on loan from Manchester United, but in turn a move back home was just what the youngster needed after a troubled spell at Old Trafford.
Much of it was his own doing, in fairness – even this summer he fell foul of Louis van Gaal’s rule after being the only player not to turn up for ‘voluntary’ training one day in pre-season. Now, though, is his chance to prove the Reds why they weren’t wrong to pay over £10 million for him last summer.
If his cameo at Newcastle is anything to go by, he’s already doing himself a favour. As well as netting a last-gasp leveller, in just 20 minutes he fired off 4 shots (only two-goal Rolando Aarons attempted more) and looked sharp from the off as Palace claimed a point.
Meanwhile, 3 of his 5 attempted take-ons came in the Newcastle area, and although only 2 were successful, they’re proof of a player whose confidence hasn’t been knocked.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Burnley 1-0 Palace (Ch, Jan 13)
- Palace 4-3 Burnley (Ch, Oct 12)
- Burnley 1-1 Palace (Ch, Mar 12)
- Palace 2-0 Burnley (Ch, Aug 11)
- Burnley 1-0 Palace (Ch, Mar 11)
Warnock is set to hand James McArthur his debut at Selhurst Park, having broken the Eagles' transfer record to sign the Wigan midfielder. "I've been after him for a while, he's a super player," beamed Warnock. "I think he's got a lot to prove. He's back with the Scotland squad and he's looking forward to starting. He's just our kind of player."
Burnley's Dyche endured a tough transfer window as the Lancashire side faced up to the reality of the top flight, but co-chairman John Banaszkiewicz says more funds will be available in January.
"We've got some money left for January so that it keeps our options open," he said. "It's not been easy... there have been some inflated prices. But it all came good in the end."
Facts and figures
- Palace are unbeaten in 9 home league meetings with Burnley (W4 D5, 6 clean sheets).
- Zaha has scored twice and been sent off once in his last 3 competitive appearances against Burnley.
- Palace have lost more points from winning positions than any other side this season (5).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Palace have to pick up after their LLD start, but the international break won’t have done any harm with a new manager to get used to. 2-0.