Neil Warnock’s first home game at Selhurst Park on Saturday sees him take on Premier League new-boys Burnley, both teams with an identical run of form since the start of the campaign.
Two losses to begin the season followed by a draw last time out has given both clubs their first point of the season. It’s a poor return which sees them propping up the table after just three games.
Sean Dyche’s side have been dogged and workmanlike if unspectacular thus far, but holding a strong Manchester United side to a goalles draw at Turf Moor will have given everyone at the club some hope that this will be far from the disaster of a campaign that many have predicted.
That the talk was of Burnley’s organisation and spirit rather than Angel Di Maria’s debut is a decent barometer for noting that Dyche got it exactly right on the day against the far more celebrated Louis Van Gaal.
David Jones’ early free-kick rattled the bar and that was as close as the home side came to scoring. Dyche will have been more than happy however with the way his strikers didn’t allow United’s back three to settle down at all in the first 45, leaving the Dutchman scratching his head in the away dugout.
Warnock too enjoyed himself last time out, the first game in his second spell at the club taking him to Tyneside and a difficult away trip to Newcastle United.
A tumultuous and breathless encounter ended as it began – with a Palace goal. Just 29 seconds were on the clock when Dwight Gayle silenced St. James’ Park. Despite being pegged back twice by Alan Pardew’s men, for whom Mike Williamson was excellent, and going behind in the 88th minute to the centre-back’s first-ever goal, Wilfred Zaha’s 95th minute leveller saw the Eagles fly back to London with a share of the spoils.
Jason Puncheon, Palace’s other scorer, was included in the side despite a very public spat with the manager via social media last season. Warnock’s celebrated mind games ensured that the front man produced a performance of note, and typifies what Warnock will expect over the coming months.
Former Eagles favourite Andrew Johnson has signed on a free transfer and is likely to make the bench for this one whilst Wilfred Zaha’s heroics could see him start up front alongside an effervescent Dwight Gayle, the latter returning from an ankle injury sustained in the draw at St. James’ Park.
Marouane Chamakh is still a week away from a return with a hamstring problem, but Joe Ledley’s return will give Neil Warnock’s side a boost.
New loan signing Michael Keane may have to wait for his debut. The Manchester United player has only signed until January but it would be a surprise to see Sean Dyche tinker with his central defensive pairing of Jason Shackell and Michael Duff after the duo were excellence personified against Keane’s parent club.
Michael Kightly is still some way short of match fitness but put in a worthwhile 90 minutes for a strong development squad, a goal capping his contribution in a 5-0 win over Aston Villa.
Cameron Dummigan and Sam Vokes remain long-term injury absentees, but Dyche has the luxury of an otherwise full strength line-up.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ward, Ledley, Zaha, Gayle.
Burnley: Heaton, Mee, Shackell, Duff, Trippier, Taylor, Jones, Marney, Arfield, Ings, Jutkiewicz.
- Burnley haven’t come away with all three points from Selhurst Park since a 2-1 win back in December 2001.
- Only seven meetings between the two sides since 1909 have ended goalless, but five of those have come at Selhurst Park.
- Crystal Palace’s record home attendance came against Burnley on 11 May 1979 when a crowd of 51,482 turned up for a Division Two match.
- Palace have conceded 2 or more goals in each of their last 6 Premier League games.
- Burnley have only kept 4 clean sheets in the Premier League. Their last one against Manchester United was their first in 29 Premier League games.
Previous Head to Heads
- 12 Jan 2013 Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
- 6 Oct 2012 Crystal Palace 4-3 Burnley
- 10 Mar 2012 Burnley 1-1 Crystal Palace
- 13 Aug 2011 Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley
- 5 Mar 2011 Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
- 18 Sep 2010 Crystal Palace 0-0 Burnley
When the news filtered through that Neil Warnock was the new Palace manager, Jason Puncheon would no doubt have drawn a sharp intake of breath. Certainly the best of enemies after last season’s Twitter spat, both put their personal differences aside and it led to Puncheon producing a man-of-the-match performance against Newcastle. Quick, direct and lively, the Palace wide man was too hot to handle throughout and a constant menace to the Magpies defence. With 60 touches he was far and away the Palace player to be most in possession of the football. 100 percent accuracy from his aerial battles, three successful take-ons and a goal to boot gives Sean Dyche an idea of where the danger will come from for the home side.
Burnley’s stand out exponent for a while now has been captain Dean Marney. Box office isn’t necessarily a phrase which springs to mind with Marney but his consistency in the midfield epitomises precisely what Dyche requires from his playing staff. Another super game against Manchester United saw Marney repel almost everything coming his way. No tackles were missed and grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck, his 51 touches and 82 percent pass accuracy in the match elevated his game way above that of the more celebrated Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Angel Di Maria. Class act.
Crystal Palace have conceded two or more goals in each of their last six games.
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Burnley’s dismal record at Selhurst Park needs to be addressed but the home crowd will be bouyed by the first appearance of their new manager in the dugout. Neil Warnock will accept nothing less than 100 percent effort and commitment throughout so expect his charges to respond in kind. Palace are still riding the crest of a wave and will have too much on the day for their visitors.