Burnley v Crystal Palace
Saturday November 30, 15:00
Clarets tough nuts to crack at Turf Moor
Up until last week, when they thumped Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road, Burnley hadn't won away from home all season and in their penultimate away match they were soundly beaten 3-0 by newly promoted Sheffield United.
The Blades are quite rightly gaining plaudits from all angles week on week though, as they appear to be bedding into the top-flight with aplomb. Burnley aren't the first and they won't be the last team to leave South Yorkshire with their tail between their legs but it seems to have had a positive effect on Sean Dyche's charges as prior to their win at Watford, they also beat West Ham 3-0 at home.
That wasn't a shock result - far from it - Burnley have been really good at Turf Moor so far, winning four, without conceding, and losing just two, but the loses came against Premier League title favourites, Liverpool, and fourth-placed Chelsea.
Although their away form isn't great, Burnley's overall form is more than solid. In addition to Sheffield United, Liverpool and Chelsea, Arsenal, in the second game of the season, and a red-hot Leicester are the only teams to beat the Clarets and despite their indifferent away form, they're now up to seventh in the table.
Beleaguered Eagles looking to stop the rot
Crystal Palace also left Bramall Lane emptyhanded, back in August when they lost 1-0 in their first away game of the new season, but they started the season brightly enough. They drew their opening fixture, at home to Everton, but followed their defeat to the Blades with back-to-back victories - away at Manchester United and at home to Aston Villa. And they also beat both Norwich (H) and West Ham (A) back-to-back but since their away win at the London Stadium, they've lost four of their last five in the and their last three in-a-row.
That little run does need to be put into context though. The defeats all came against the current top-four in the table - 2-0 at home to Manchester City and Leicester, 2-0 away at Chelsea, and 2-1 at home to Liverpool last Saturday, when they were perhaps a little unfortunate not to share the spoils.
The Eagles' star player, Wilfried Zaha, scored his first goal of the season last week and they really need him to get his scoring boots back on. In their 13 Premier League games to date, Palace have scored just 11 times and only bottom club, Watford, have found the net on fewer occasions.
Stats point to few goals
At least three goals have been scored in four of Burnley's six home games and in four of Palace's six away, suggesting the odds-against for Over in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market looks very fair but on closer inspection, it's not for me.
Second-placed Leicester City, with six, are the only team in the Premier League to have kept more clean sheets than the hosts (five) and bottom club, Watford, are the only team to have failed to score more often than the visitors. Watford have failed to find the net seven times, compared to Palace's six so we have one of the tightest defences taking on one of the lowest scoring teams. It's unrealistic to expect a goal-fest.
Clarets fancied to chalk up three more points
It's going to be interesting to see how Palace build on their narrow defeat to the title favourites and there was enough in last week's performance to suggest they'll start to pick up points again soon enough. Speaking to Place TV, Zaha certainly sounded confident they can get back on track.
"We will win more than we lose if we play like that. I'm confident the boys will come back and we will pick up points in the next couple of games."
The Eagles have just had a run of really tough fixtures but things get much easier after the weekend. They host Bournemouth on Tuesday and following that, they'll face Watford, big rivals, Brighton, Newcastle, West Ham, and Southampton in December before travelling to Norwich on News Years Day.
That's a kind run of games and I expect them to start climbing the table but I'm not convinced the ascent will start on Saturday.
With six apiece, Burnley's Asley Barnes and Chris Wood have scored more goals than the entire Palace team combined so far this season and after back-to-back 3-0 wins the Clarets are bidding to win three consecutive games by three or more goals for the first time since 1926. They were really poor at Sheffield United but they've responded in style and they might just be too strong for the Eagles.
The Clarets host Manchester City on Tuesday night before facing Spurs away next weekend so they'll be keen to chalk up another three points before those two tough assignments and they're a fair price to do so at around 2.47/5.
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