Crystal Palace vs Burnley preview: Two clubs heading in opposite directions meet at Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace vs Burnley preview: Two clubs heading in opposite directions meet at Selhurst Park

The pair have undergone a slight role reversal in recent months, with the hosts sparking a revival under Sam Allardyce while the Clarets' season peters out

Sam Smith

A slight blip against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek was a mere disappointment in a remarkable few months for Crystal Palace.

In the ten games that have followed the shock 4-0 defeat to Sunderland at the start of February, which left many Palace fans resigned to relegation, the Eagles have doubled their overall points tally. Fantastic victories away against Chelsea and Liverpool and a 3-0 home success against Arsenal have followed, leaving Sam Allardyce’s side placed 12th in the Premier League, a position in which they can all but consider themselves safe.

Burnley visit the recently reinvigorated Selhurst Park with the worst away form in the top-flight on Saturday evening. The Clarets’ sturdy start to the season has proved to be vital as only a mini miracle could still see them relegated.

Allardyce and January targets the catalysts to sensational survival

Although the South Londoners’ Premier League status for next season is not mathematically secure, only an almost impossible set of results could send them down. Despite a difficult start at the Palace helm, Allardyce is quickly adapting to life at Selhurst Park and his reputation for saving clubs from the brink is set to carry on for another year.

The former England manager has finally implemented his ideas and the players are benefitting. Yohan Cabaye, in particular, has excelled in a role that has seen him provided with more freedom and the Frenchman has as many goals since Allardyce’s arrival as he did in his previous 40 appearances in red and blue.

While Allardyce has played a major role in the revival, the January additions have also certainly played their part. Mamadou Sakho has improved the back four since signing on loan from Liverpool, although the centre-back could now miss the rest of the season after being stretchered off in the 1-0 defeat to Spurs on Wednesday. In addition, £10.5 million signing Luka Milivojević has been outstanding in a defensive midfield role.

Luka Milivojević has starred since signing from Olympiacos in January | Photo: Getty images / Action Plus / Jason Hearn

Visitors still looking for first away win

Victories against Liverpool and Everton are part of the reason why Burnley find themselves sixth in terms of the best home form this season. Performances at Turf Moor have largely been the key to the Clarets ensuring they stay in the Premier League for another season.

However, despite such great home form, Sean Dyche’s side have bizarrely struggled on the road, picking up just four points – all from draws. In fact, Burnley have suffered a similar drop in form that Palace had last season. The Lancashire club have won just once in their last twelve games in all competitions, a run that includes a shock home defeat to Lincoln City in the FA Cup.

Team news

Damien Delaney is expected to come in for his first start since February, replacing Sakho after the France international’s injury on Wednesday. Patrick van Aanholt could also replace Jeffrey Schlupp at left-back after featuring twice in the last three games from the substitutes’ bench after returning from injury. Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Connor Wickham and Pape Souaré remain long-term absentees.

Burnley will be without Joey Barton after the midfielder was suspended for 18 months for a breach of gambling regulations. Dean Marney is the Clarets’ only definite absentee, although Scott Arfield, Ben Mee, Sam Vokes and Stephen Ward are all doubts.