PREVIEW: Crystal Palace v Burnley – News
The Clarets make the testing trip to the capital to face Crystal Palace with a place in the top eight of the Premier League up for grabs.
Only goal difference separates the two sides and three points tonight would lift the winners above both Arsenal and Sheffield United and level on points with seventh-placed Tottenham.
Palace return home for the first time since the league’s restart, having played both their opening games on the road.
And for the Clarets, it’s the first of two trips to London during their run-in to the campaign.
The current protocols in place around Cobid-19 make the logistics more demanding with the travelling party requiring three coaches to meet them off the train south to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
It’s quite a journey, although perhaps not as eventful as the one enjoyed by Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope since he made his Premier League debut against Palace in September, 2017.
Replacing the injured Tom Heaton, Pope made the perfect start in a 1-0 win which kick-started a career trajectory that has made him Burnley’s number-one, part of a World Cup semi-final squad and co-leader in this season’s race to win the top-flight’s golden glove – all via a shoulder injury which denied him a Premier League appearance last season.
“My first game off the bench against Crystal Palace, at home, is a game I’d never forget,” said Pope as he prepares to face the Eagles again.
“My Premier League debut and to win, and for myself and for the team to go on and end up in Europe at the end of that season was great.
“It’ll always be the start for me and it will always be a game I’ll remember as one of my favourites throughout my whole career.”
Pope couldn’t count that shut-out against Palace as a clean sheet on his personal tally after not starting the game.
That means he set a new mark when helping the Clarets beat Watford 1-0 last Thursday night, moving level at the top of the pile with Liverpool’s Allison, who was unbeaten in the Reds’ 4-0 win over Palace the night before.
“Obviously goalscorers look at goals and keepers look at clean sheets, so it’s nice to be up there,” Pope added.
“I think two years ago we got 11, so it’s nice to break that record as a personal goal and as a team and with 12 games to go it would be great to get 14-15, however many it may be.
“It would be great to set a marker and really break the record as much as we can.”
The Clarets will again be missing strikers Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood and widemen Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
But Burnley hope Jay Rodriguez – who scored the winner against Watford last Thursday night – will shake off a couple of knocks to be fit to start.
Palace hope goalkeeper Vicente Guaita will be fit to return after missing their 4-0 loss to Liverpool.
Winger Wilfried Zaha limped off early at Anfield with a calf injury and is a doubt, along with striker Christian Benteke.
Defenders James Tomkins, Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp are all ruled out.
The Clarets secured their first points since lockdown with a 1-0 win over Watford last Thursday night.
Helped by a 12th clean sheet of the campaign, Burnley have now lost just one of their last nine league games either side of the break.
Palace restarted with a 2-0 win at Bournemouth before losing 4-0 at Liverpool last Wednesday night as the Reds prepared to celebrate their title triumph.
Roy Hodgson’s side – level on points with the Clarets – had been on a three-match winning run before shutdown.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson on his side’s first home game behind closed doors: “Yes, we will miss that the atmosphere, there’s no doubt about that.
“I think the fans will miss being there, too, of course. However, one of the things that one hopes for with our club, is that support is a very loyal and fervent support.
“One thing we do know, even though they aren’t there physically, they’re there in spirit. We know that their thoughts, prayers, hopes and desire to push us on to victory will be there from wherever they’re watching and whatever medium they’re watching the game on.
“We feel their presence and we welcome that. But it is going to be very, very different.”
Clarets skipper Ben Mee is set to make his 300th league appearance for the Clarets.
Defensive partner James Tarkowski is in line to play his 300th game in club football.
The pair have started the Clarets’ last 55 Premier League games together. That run started following a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace in December, 2018 when Tarkowski was absent.
Burnley striker Matej Vydra is expected to make his 50th Premier League appearance.
Only Liverpool and Manchester City have bettered the Clarets’ total of five league wins in 2020.
In nine Premier League meetings between the two sides there has been only one draw.