Crystal Palace take on Burnley at Selhurst Park this Saturday for a 15.00 kick-off, the two teams sitting directly above and below one another; with Palace on top in 17th and Burnley just below in 18th.
Since Clarets manager Sean Dyche took over the reigns from now Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe in 2012, Burnley have spent two consecutive seasons in the country’s top-flight for the first time since 1976. They finished 7th last season, then enjoying six games against European opposition in the Europa League, which they only lost one of.
This season, however, the Clarets have suffered. With 13 points less now than they had at this point last year, Dyche’s side have conceded the second most goals in the league despite having enjoyed one of the best defensive records of any team in 2017/18.
And while Palace have struggled for goals of late, they can take confidence in Burnley’s poor defensive record: the visitors having conceded at least four goals in their past three visits to play in London.
The Eagles were boosted both going forward and in defence last week, as manager Roy Hodgson was able to call upon an almost entirely fit squad to face Manchester United. His side went on to earn a well-fought draw that will no doubt boost their momentum for Saturday.
However, one man who will be looking to put a stop to any building impetus for Palace will be Sam Vokes, who has been with Burnley since 2012. The forward has scored three times so far this season, including in the Claret’s last game: a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United.
Five of Vokes’ last six goals have come from his head, and so Palace will be keen to defend tightly at set-pieces and from crosses in particular. However, the 29-year-old has only made the bench today.
And though this fixture may look to some as destined to be a low-scoring affair, it was only six years ago that the two clubs battled it out in truly remarkable style; scoring seven goals between them in an eye-catching 4-3 Palace win.
In 2012, as Palace sat in fourth-place, later that season going on to earn promotion to the Premier League, 14th-placed Burnley began to pull off a shock win at Selhurst Park when they scored twice in an October league fixture’s opening thirty minutes.
However, Palace weren’t to be defeated and responded by netting four consecutive goals to claim all three points that day for themselves. Charlie Austin gave the game a tense finish by scoring Burnley’s third in the 81st minute, but it wasn't quite enough to steal a point.
The match was well attended for the time and saw Wilfried Zaha bag a brace, as well as a certain 22-year-old Kieran Trippier find himself entering Roger East’s notebook. It became Palace’s seventh running league game undefeated, and they took 19 points from a possible 21.
Both teams will have been cautious of Cardiff City’s game against an out-of-form Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday night, as the Bluebirds overtook each with their 2-1 win. Palace have to win today to finish the weekend above them.
Away from the pitch, however, fans should be aware of Scott Cunliffe, a man taking a rather unorthodox mode of transport for each Burnley away day this season.
Scott is running to every one of Burnley’s 19 away league games for this campaign, looking to raise money for great causes both in Burnley and across the rest of England via Premier League club’s respective charities. Overall, he will run around 3,000 miles, with every journey starting at Turf Moor and ending at the Claret’s host’s home stadium before the match.
The run to Selhurst Park will take seven days and is 235 miles in length. If you want to support Scott’s incredible effort - dubbed the RunAway Challenge - you can donate by texting AWAY19 £3 to 70070.
Palace: Hennessey, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Kouyaté, Milivojevic, Meyer, Townsend, Zaha.
Subs: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Schlupp, Puncheon, Sørloth, Ayew.
Burnley: Hart, Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor, Lennon, Defour, Cork, Hendrick, Gudmundsson, Wood.
Subs: Heaton, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Westwood, Brady, Barnes, Vokes.
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