Analysis: Full-backs Lowton and Ward prove to be a huge miss for Burnley

Before Christmas, Burnley were being described as the surprise package of the season after breaking the 'top six' and flirting with the European places. Yet a sixth Premier League game without a win has left the Clarets in their most challenging position of the campaign thus far.

Long afternoon for Bardlsey and Ward

Taking on a rejuvenated Crystal Palace side under Roy Hodgson, Burnley were quite simply torn apart in wide areas. Bakary Sako produced an impeccable display as he dominated the left channel, causing Phil Bardsley problems throughout the contest.

Sako's pace and power was always a concern for the ageing right-back but he allowed the Malian too much time to surge forward and unleash a strike that beat Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope far too easily for the winning goal.

The 29-year old went close to scoring a second with a rasping volley that flew wide as he manufactured six strikes during the contest.

On the opposite flank, Charlie Taylor struggled to cope with Wilfried Zaha. Taylor's mistake allowed Zaha to hook a pass over Pope's head only for Ben Mee to produce a last-ditch clearance with James McArthur poised for a tap-in. In fact, the only time Taylor got close to Zaha was when he unceremoniously dumped him into a TV camera.

Surprisingly, Burnley were too often beaten in the air, particularly when crosses were played to the back post. Christian Benteke posed a threat throughout as he, Sako and Zaha continued to feed off spaces in the channels, both in the air and on the ground. Sean Dyche will be desperate to recall his first-choice full-backs Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward when they return from injury.

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Just nine points from 49 matches when they have conceded first

Another concern for Burnley was their lack of threat going forward. Ashley Barnes did force Wayne Hennessey into a fingertip stop but the Clarets looked largely ineffective when on the ball. The fact that Jack Cork and Steven Defour had almost three times as many touches each as their more advanced central midfield colleague, Jeff Hendrick, shows just how challenging Burnley found it to get the ball forward.

Burnley's success in the first-half of the campaign was based on their ability to close down spaces and grab a goal against the run of play. However, both aspects of their tactics were missing again on Saturday and the Clarets simply do not have the talent and ability to chase the game.

In 49 Premier League games under Sean Dyche when Burnley have conceded the first goal, the side have failed to win any of those matches, losing 40 of them.

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