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1516 burnley turf moor 04Having picked up a first away point of the season at Manchester United last week, the Clarets are now looking for a second successive home victory when we face Crystal Palace tomorrow afternoon.

Last time out a the Turf, a 90th minute Scott Arfield winner gave us the points against Everton and should we win the game tomorrow it will be the first time we’ve had back to back home wins in the Premier League since beating we won the opening four Turf Moor fixtures in 2009.

Everton was a tough game but to come out of that and the Old Trafford fixture with four points has been a great boost for us although it hasn’t lifted us a single place in the table. But a win tomorrow would guarantee a move up with us kicking off below our opponents only on goal difference.

One player very much enjoying life in the Premier League again is Dean Marney. Last time round he was ruled out from early February after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the 2-2 home draw against West Brom and he played only a minor part in last season’s promotion.

But he’s been an ever present so far this season and said ahead of tomorrow’s game: “Last time in the Premier League I played near enough every game until I got injured so that season was written off, which was a massive blow. I spent the second half of the season as a fan in the stands just cheering the lads on. When you’re just sitting there and you can’t do anything it’s difficult.

“I needed this pre-season to get myself back fit and my first aim was to get through that injury free. Ask any player, getting through a whole pre-season without injury really sets you up for the season.”

Two seasons ago in the Premier League he partnered David Jones but now the central midfield includes players such as Jeff Hendrick and Steven Defour as well as new wide player Johann Berg Gudmundsson. Marney is happy with the new arrivals. “Something we needed to do was strengthen, to give ourselves the best chance of surviving in this division and I think we’ve done that,” he said.

“All the new lads have settled in quickly, done great and obviously with more options the gaffer has got the chance to play three in midfield which we have never had before.”

We started with our favoured 4-4-2 and went back to it last week when Andre Gray returned from suspension, but we have Steven Defour fit this week and that will prove a poser for Sean Dyche should he decide to bring him straight back.

Will he opt to keep the system used at Old Trafford or will he revert to the system used in the five matches before that? As usual he’s not given away any clues. I was surprised he did got back to two strikers last week but I certainly won’t be surprised if he retains that this week and I think it could be the same team with Defour potentially, for the first time, on the bench.

One change we will have to make is at left-back. Stephen Ward came off just before half time last week with a hamstring injury and has been ruled out. Jon Flanagan, who has replaced Ward in each of the last two games is almost certain to come for his first Burnley league start.

The team could be: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Dean Marney, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Aiden O’Neill, Steven Defour, Michael Kightly, George Boyd, Patrick Bamford, Ashley Barnes.

Crystal Palace’s 2015/16 season was certainly one of two halves. With the season half complete at the end of 2015 they were fifth in the table with 31 points and looking real contenders for a European place in Alan Pardew’s first full season in charge. Then it all changed. Only 11 more points were won in the second half which saw them pick up only two wins, both at home, against Norwich and Stoke.

The result of that saw them finish in 15th place although they were a comfortable five points clear of Newcastle who occupied the highest of the three relegation positions. That saw some changes during the summer with three big signings, transfer fee wise, that saw the arrivals of Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and Christian Benteke from Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool. Those three cost them £50 million with over half of that heading to Merseyside for the signature of Belgian striker Benteke.

Their current season can be split into three. The first three games saw them win only one point, that at home against Bournemouth, before they then won three consecutive games which saw them move into seventh place.

Those wins came against Middlesbrough, Stoke and Sunderland, two of them away with Stoke the team beaten at Selhurst Park. Since, it has been four more without a win. They drew at Everton before losing against West Ham and Liverpool at home with a defeat at Leicester between them.

Those results have seen them drop to 13th in the table, above us on goal difference, although, like us, just one win away from a place in the top half.

They’ve certainly found goals easier to come by than we have. We’ve both scored seven in home games whereas they can boast a better scoring record away from home with seven compared to the one we’ve scored from a Sam Vokes penalty.

Midfielder James McArthur, a player we tried to bring to Turf Moor in the summer of 2014, has scored four of their goals, including two in last week’s defeat against Liverpool, while Benteke has netted three times for his new club.

Palace have three long term absentees with only one of them, Pape Souare, having any chance of returning this side of Christmas. The other two out are Loic Remy and Jonathan Benteke.

Pardew can, however, expect to have another former Burnley target Connor Wickham back after he missed last week’s game although Bakary Sako is a doubt.

The Palace team last week against Liverpool was: Steve Mandanda, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Martin Kelly, Chung-Yong Lee, Yohan Cabaye, James McArthur, Joe Ledley, Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke. Subs: Wayne Hennessey, Damien Delaney, Zeki Fryers, Mathieu Flamini, Fraizer Campbell, Andros Townsend, Jason Puncheon.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

It was January 2015 and we went into our home game against Crystal Palace on a good run of form. We’d drawn at Manchester City and then Newcastle before beating QPR at home, and it looked as though another home win was on the cards when we raced into an early two goal lead.

It was an incredible start from the Clarets. With just 12 minute gone, Ben Mee scored his first ever Premier League goal, heading home a Kieran Trippier corner and just four minutes later it was 2-0 when Danny Ings benefited from some superb work on the left from Scott Arfield.

That left Palace with something to do and, unfortunately, they did it. Dwight Gayle got them back into the game just before the half hour. Tom Heaton blocked a shot from Yaya Sanogo but it rebounded for Gayle to fire home.

Heaton did well to keep out another couple of efforts and by half time we must have been relieved to go in with a lead. It wasn’t to last much longer. Less than three minutes into the second half and Palace were level. We just didn’t close down Jason Puncheon and he was allowed to fire home from around 25-yards.

As the ground was hit with snow, hail and sleet at varying times during the second half we actually got ourselves back into it. Michael Keane saw an effort blocked on the line but it all eventually evened out and looked to be heading for a draw.

Then, three minutes from time, a ball came in from the right. Glenn Murray blocked Trippier and that allowed the ball to go through to Gayle who made no mistake with a low shot into the corner of the net.

A win would have seen us climb to 12th in the table, but defeat left us in 17th place, just one position above the drop zone.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Marvin Sordell 90+1), Dean Marney, David Jones (Ross Wallace 90+2), Scott Arfield, Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 73). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Steven Reid, Michael Duff, Michael Kightly.

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Stephen Kelly (Adrian Marriapa 83), James McArthur, Joe Ledley, Dwight Gayle, Jason Puncheon, Yaya Sanogo (Glenn Murray 79), Wilfried Zaha (Adlene Guedioura 70). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Brede Hangeland, Jerome Thomas, Fraizer Campbell.

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