Frank De Boer supposedly needs a victory to save his job. Michael Cox considers whether his tactics will work against Burnley, while Alan Thompson provides the betting lowdown...
"Burnley's record at Turf Moor last season was exceptional"
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Match Odds: Burnley [2.4], Crystal Palace [3.5], The Draw [3.3].
This is Frank De Boer's fourth league game in charge of Crystal Palace - but, incredibly, he's already fighting for his job after a wretched start to the campaign, and there is a serious suggestion that he might be dismissed if Palace lose at Turf Moor here.
The entire situation surrounding De Boer is somewhat bizarre. The Dutchman was supposedly appointed because Palace wanted to embrace a more cultured, positive approach having previously been coached by back-to-basic managers like Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce.
But then De Boer wasn't properly backed in the transfer window, with only defender Jairo Riedewald, signed from Ajax, a player who naturally plays well in De Boer's favoured style. The rest of the team still seems distinctly unsuited to his approach, and while sacking a manager four games into the campaign seems somewhat ludicrous, and it's very difficult for anyone to impose their managerial philosophy upon a club so quickly, perhaps Palace are best off admitting their error sooner rather than later. The person who appointed De Boer in the first place, however, is surely most culpable here.
In terms of this match, De Boer has serious injury problems with cope with. Bakaro Sako, Wilfried Zaha and Connor Wickham are all still out, while Riedewald, Roben Loftus-Cheek, Yohan Cabaye and James Tomkins are all considered doubtful. Mamadou Sakho was finally signed permanently after a successful loan spell last season, but he's seen no action since last season and therefore seems doubtful too.
This means that De Boer is likely to field a patch-up side, and seems likely to switch to a 4-3-3 system having previously used a three-man defence. He'll desperately hope Riedewald and Loftus-Cheek are fit to start, or else he's seriously struggling both in defence and midfield. The former is likely to partner Scott Dann, the latter will play alongside James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic in midfield.
Palace's area of strength is probably down the left flank, where Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp both offer thrust, pace and defensive discipline. They'll be charged with getting in crosses for Christian Benteke, who continues to lead the line and appears the player least suited to De Boer's approach - but also, by a distance, Palace's best attacker. On the right, Andros Townsend continues to frustrate.
Burnley, meanwhile, are playing the type of football Palace are accustomed to: two banks of four, little attempt to dominate possession, and plenty of counter-attacking down the flanks. Their record at Turf Moor last season was exceptional, and they deservedly start as strong favourites here.
Chris Wood is likely to start upfront having made a positive impact as a substitute against Tottenham last time out, and this slightly changes the approach of Sean Dyche's side - he's very much a target man rather than a counter-attacker, and therefore expect plenty of crosses. The left flank, where Robbie Brady and Stephen Ward are stationed, seems the most likely source of good deliveries.
On the right, Johann Gudmundsson will shuttle up and down manfully, while Scott Arfield should start in the number ten position, attempting to link midfield and attack.
Perhaps Burnley's best performers this season, however, have been the centre-backs. Ben Mee continues to impress while James Tarkowski has made an encouraging start as Michael Keane's replacement. Benteke will offer a serious test in the air, but Burnley are accustomed to battling against that approach and should be capable of standing firm.
In truth, this isn't likely to be a particularly entertaining game, with Palace lacking incision in the final third and Burnley not offering as much counter-attacking threat as last season. But the home side remain excellently organised, and should get plenty of men behind the ball to nullify Palace's slow build-up play, so I'll back a Burnley clean sheet at [2.7].
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
Burnley fans must be pinching themselves at the minute after taking four points from two very tough away games at Stamford Bridge and Wembley Stadium. They will be looking to pick up their first home points of the campaign against a Crystal Palace side who could not have started any worse. Not even a goal to show in their first three games, two of which were at Selhurst Park.
Burnley’s home form hasn’t been that solid of late, winning only one of their last seven Premier League games at Turf Moor and even though Palace have had a very poor start to the campaign, I think they could get something here.
I certainly don’t see any value in backing Burnley at [2.4] but the [3.5] available for the Eagles looks about half a point to high for me. So rather than go all in for the away win, I will tread a little cautiously and back Crystal Palace at [2.46] in the Draw No Bet market.