Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmakers: William Hill
Struggling Crystal Palace host high-flying Burnley on Saturday for a clash between two sides of similar size, but vastly differing fortunes. The Eagles are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, two points above 18th spot after 22 games. The Clarets meanwhile currently occupy seventh, and lead the chasing pack behind the traditional top six.
The Eagles had an atrocious start to the season, picking up just four points from their first 11 games, and becoming accustomed to life at the bottom of the Premier League table. That dire form came under the management of Frank de Boer however, who was quickly sacked by the Palace hierarchy. Roy Hodgson was the man drafted in to save the club, and since his arrival the London side have gone unbeaten in 11 games. The impact that the former England boss has had is extraordinary, but his side still sit just two points above the drop zone.
Palace certainly aren’t lacking a talented squad, with the likes of Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha representing top players. Both have had their injury issues however and Hodgson will be faced with a whole host of potential absentees for this weekend’s game. A lack of goals has been an issue all season for the Eagles, and that is something that hasn’t been fully remedied yet. That does go some way towards explaining the fact that six games during their unbeaten run have ended in draws, three of which have been 0-0 stalemates.
Hodgson is facing somewhat of an injury crisis, and the Eagles could be without both Joel Ward and Jeffrey Schlupp in defence, due to calf and foot injuries respectively.
Andros Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could also miss out, with the former looking the less likely with an ankle issue.
Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham are all out for the longer term.
The Clarets have long been a club that have flown under the radar somewhat, perhaps due to the fact that they don’t appeal to many neutrals, or what are becoming known as ‘hipster football fans’. While the style of play may not be the most inspiring, Burnley have made people sit up and take notice this season, and they currently sit seventh in the Premier League table just past the halfway stage. For a club with limited resources that feat is highly impressive, and they have recorded a win over Chelsea, as well as score draws against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United in this campaign.
Defensively Sean Dyche has got his team playing almost perfectly, and they represent the fourth best defensive team in the Premier League, having conceded fewer goals than Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. It is going forward that they have struggled however, and they have netted the fifth fewest goals this season. Chris Wood is the club’s highest scorer in this campaign with just four goals, and until they can start scoring more regularly it is difficult to see Burnley breaking into the top six.
The Clarets injury list is certainly not as extensive as that of Palace, but they are missing a few key players. Midfielder Robbie Brady is out with a knee injury, while goalkeeper Tom Heaton is still absent due to a dislocated shoulder.
Stephen Ward’s knee injury might keep him out, but Scott Arfield and Chris Wood should be back in time for this clash.
Key Factors to Consider
- Crystal Palace have lost just once in their last 11 Premier League games.
- The Eagles have however conceded in seven of those games.
- Burnley have lost just one of the their 13 league games against teams below them in the table.
- The Clarets also have the fourth best defensive record in the league.
- Sean Dyche’s side have draw their last three league games away from home.
Burnley are the masters of grinding out a tough result, and with Crystal Palace in impressive form this could be a tougher game for the Clarets than many people believe. Both sides have drawn seven of their league games this season, and the last three clashes for Sean Dyche’s side have ended level. A draw won’t suit either side, especially Palace, who need every point they can get, but it seems like a likely outcome here.
Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmakers: William Hill
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