The Clarets travel to south London on Saturday, desperate to get something out of the game against Crystal Palace – especially as December’s following six fixtures include Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Everton. Burnley’s dismal start to the season is leading into what may well be a long hard winter.
Palace are sixteenth in the league, currently sitting just a place above the Clarets on goal difference. They’ve only got two points from their last five games – a point more than Burnley. However, they have faced Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United during that spell and performed creditably – especially at Old Trafford, where the consensus is that they ought to have taken all three points. Wilfrid Zaha sparkled on his return to his former club and will be relishing the prospect of tearing into a Clarets side that is low on confidence and which has looked pedestrian in most games this season.
Hodgson has claimed that his Palace side haven’t got the results their performances have merited so far this season. The same sadly can’t be said for the Clarets, whose iron resolve of last season appears to have been melted down and sold as scrap this term.
Monday’s home defeat to Newcastle actually showed some signs of improvement, but it was difficult to take much solace from being beaten at home relatively comfortably, by such a poor side. It’s true that in spells Burnley played quite well and were unlucky not to have clawed back the early two goal deficit by half time.
Clarets supporters can also take heart (or is that clutch at straws?) from the fact that Kevin Long – deputising for James Tarkowski – played very well at the back, as did Sam Vokes up front. However, several other players, currently struggling for form, will have to step up on Saturday if Burnley are to take anything from the game.
My fear is that things will get worse before they get better and I imagine a fired-up Palace at Selhurst Park may overwhelm Burnley and win comfortably. Additionally, it’s very difficult to anticipate the starting line up – will Sean Dyche show faith in his players, or will he make changes? History suggests that it will be the former, not the latter.
With a heavy heart, I’m predicting a 2-0 Palace victory and I think Burnley will line up as follows:-
Hart, Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor, Brady, Defour Cork, Lennon, Vokes, Wood.