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1718 burnley turf moor 01 1000x500It’s two weeks since Chris Wood scored that stoppage goal against Spurs at Wembley to give us a fourth away point of the season in a 1-1 draw, and it’s back at home today to face Crystal Palace in front of the television cameras.

Burnley will be looking for a first home win of the season, albeit it is only our second game, but the so much talked about run of home wins last season is some way in the distance now with the 1-0 victory against Stoke, when George Boyd scored his last Burnley goal, the only time we’ve picked up three points at the Turf since beating Leicester on the last day of January.

The equally talked about away form at the time has also changed somewhat in those few months with four draws and two wins with that only win on the road last season coming against today’s opponents Crystal Palace.

Things have changed a bit at Burnley since that Selhurst Park win. It was the first game without Joey Barton following his suspension earlier that week and we are now also without the services of Michael Keane, Boyd and Andre Gray who have all moved on during the summer.

We’ve brought in a number of new players and for one it will be the chance today to make a home debut. Chris Wood was signed from Leeds just a couple of days after the West Brom game. He has made two substitute appearances for us, the first at Blackburn and the second at Wembley when he scored his first Burnley goal and his second of the season having previously netted for Leeds in their win at Bolton.

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Since that Wembley goal, he’s flown back home to New Zealand, bagged himself a hat trick and he’s now looking forward to playing at the Turf for the first time as a Burnley player. He’s looking forward to scoring his first Turf Moor goal since his transfer. “Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later,” he said. “I will definitely be working hard to do that, or to help the team set up and get wins.”

He has scored at the Turf, for Leicester back in 2014 as the two teams headed towards the Premier League but he added: “It will be a lot different this time around. It will be good to have that support behind us and hopefully behind me, so we can kick on and do really well.

“It’s not often you have to wait nearly three or four weeks for a home debut. Normally you’re straight in after a week or so. It’s going to be great. It’s nice to get down there and see what it’s all about. I’ve heard great things from a lot of the boys here and boys who have been here in the past, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Whether Wood gets his first Burnley start remains to be seen. We will be without more recent signing Nahki Wells. The transfer deadline day capture from Huddersfield is recovering from a minor ankle operation. He’s ahead of schedule but is still a few weeks away.

Jeff Hendrick also looks likely to miss out. He was considered touch and go by Sean Dyche a couple of days ago and, having missed two Burnley and two Republic of Ireland games, it would be a surprise to see him back in.

I think the line up could depend on whether Dyche opts to return to the more familiar 4-4-2 formation. If he does, it could see Wood partner Sam Vokes up front with either Scott Arfield or Johann Berg Gudmundsson the unlucky one to miss out from the team that started at Wembley. We did switch during the second half in that game but if we continue with the same formation from the start then it’s likely to be the same team that started against Spurs.

Our line up could be: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, Robbie Brady, Sam Vokes. Subs from: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Jon Walters, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood.

I think it is fair to say that Crystal Palace haven’t made the best of starts to the new season. They are currently in the bottom three having lost all of their games. Both Huddersfield and Swansea have beaten them at Selhurst Park and they’ve also suffered a narrow defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.

It almost mirrors last season. A bad start then was followed by three wins but by December they were struggling and in Christmas week they decided to do what struggling clubs do and change their manager. Out went Alan Pardew after nearly two years and in came Sam Allardyce. He did what he does and kept them up but then, out of the blue, opted to leave at the end of the season.

For weeks we feared they were targeting Sean Dyche but eventually they appointment Dutchman Frank De Boer who had previously succeeded as manager of Ajax but had suffered a difficult time in charge of Inter Milan.

De Boer has come in with his own ideas but has been placed under enormous pressure following their start. Incredibly, there were suggestions he wouldn’t make it as far as today but he has. We’ll never know how close our manager came to going to Palace, if indeed there was anything in it, but if they are a club looking to change manager after three games I can only assume he realises which is the better of the two jobs between the one he has now and the one he was linked with.

As for Palace, they’ve signed Mamadou Sakho for big money since their last game. He was a major signing for Allardyce last season in a loan deal. They won five of the eight games he played, but they lost him to injury in a home game against Spurs just before our visit and he’s not played since.

Sakho is expected to feature for their under-23 team tomorrow and will certainly not be considered for selection. Although De Boer will also be without Connor Wickham and Wilfried Zaha, he has reported good news in that all of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, James Tomkins and Sullay Kaikai are back in contention for today’s game.

Tomkins played in the last game, coming off injured, but Loftus-Cheek and Kaikai both missed that game.

Reports have suggested that De Boer may well switch from his favoured back three today and go to a more traditional back four and they could line up: Wayne Hennessey, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur, Yohan Cabaye, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend. Subs from: Julian Speroni, Martin Kelly, Joel Ward, Jason Puncheon, Jeffrey Schlupp, Jason Lokilo, Keshi Anderson, Sullay Kaikai.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

In the 2014/15 season, Burnley surrendered a two goal lead in the home game against Crystal Palace, eventually going down to a 3-2 defeat. Last season it looked as if history was going to repeat itself when again we went 2-0 up, saw Palace come back to 2-2 and look the more likely to win it.

But this time it was Burnley’s day with Ashley Barnes scoring his first goal since returning from the cruciate ligament injury he’d sustained at Aston Villa in May 2015 to win it for the Clarets deep into stoppage time.

It was early November, the clocks had gone back, the coats were on but we were soon warmed up when Sam Vokes scored in only the second minute and from a Palace corner. A good move involving Jeff Hendrick, Steven Defour, Matt Lowton and Johann Berg Gudmundsson eventually saw Lowton’s shot parried by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda onto his own defender leaving Vokes to poke it home.

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With less than a quarter of an hour gone it was 2-0 with Gudmundsson scoring his first Burnley goal. A brilliant ball from Vokes sent him clear. You have to suggest the goalkeeper could have done better but it bounced past him and went in.

That’s how it stayed until almost an hour had gone but a double substitution paid dividends for Palace within a minute and it was one of the subs, Connor Wickham, once a Burnley target, who scored when he scored from a Wilfried Zaha cross although he was narrowly offside.

Lowton conceded a penalty nine minutes from the end which was converted by Christian Benteke and it looked as though Palace would go on and win it.

Into stoppage time and they won a free kick. We got it out but as they looked to get the ball back into our box, Dean Marney brilliantly intercepted it and we moved it forward with Barnes and Gudmundsson. Barnes’ pass out wide wasn’t good but Gudmundsson got onto it, his cross was brilliant as was the finish from Barnes.

We’d won it. We had a narrow escape when Andros Townsend went and hit the post but it was a Burnley win to take us up to 9th in the Premier League.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jeff Hendrick (Ashley Barnes 86), Dean Marney, Steven Defour (James Tarkowski 74), Scott Arfield (George Boyd 65), Sam Vokes.

Crystal Palace: Steve Mandanda, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Martin Kelly (Zeki Fryers 59), Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon (Connor Wickham 59), Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur (Joe Ledley 88), Andros Townsend, Christian Benteke. Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Mathieu Flamini, James Tomkins, Chung-Yong Lee.

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