Eye on the Opposition - Burnley vs Crystal Palace (10.09.2017)

Written by Jack Pierce

Crystal Palace face a Burnley side that have started the season impressively, and the encounter at Turf Moor will be a difficult one. Here's Jack Pierce with his look at what to expect. 

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In an alternate reality, Palace currently sit mid table on four points having won and drawn their two home games and lost at Liverpool. Solid defensively but not creating much going forward, given the defensive setup, the season looks like one of aiming to survive again rather than progress much further up the league.

Oh, and Sean Dyche is the manager of Crystal Palace.

It's no secret that the Burnley boss was keen on taking charge of our lovely lot once Sam Allardyce departed but after consideration, the powers that be decided he wasn't the right man for the club and plumped with, as you all know, Frank de Boer. Hindsight is a lovely thing but perhaps, given our set of players and strengths throughout the squad, the more unfashionable choice may have proven the more suitable appointment.

Dyche has been superb since being appointed Burnley boss in 2012. Promotion, an admirable effort to stay up, promotion again and then achieving Premier League safety for the first time in the club's history in his first four full seasons is a pretty decent list of achievements and his application for the Palace job would certainly have been considered by those assessing. He now possesses experience of the top flight, seems a fairly shrewd mover in the transfer market and has proven he is capable of leading a team to safety.

It seems he didn't have as detailed a plan of how his Palace side would look moving forward as his Dutch rival for the job did and it may well be that that is the reason de Boer and not Dyche was sat next to Steve Parish at the dawn of the next chapter in Palace's journey. It will be interesting to see whether Dyche would be keen or whether he will indeed be approached by the club should, and it remains a should, the manager's job become available again in the not so distant future.

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Having secured top flight football for his club last season, Dyche, like so many Clarets' fans, would have been hoping they'd not be starting the next season without Michael Keane and Andre Gray - perhaps the two most talented and recognisable members of his playing staff. However, they did. Keane joined Everton for in the region of £25 million and Andre Gray moved back south after the club agreed a fee with Watford of around £18 million for the striker which, considering the player only had one year left on his contract, appears excellent business by those representing Burnley.

Incomings, at least initially, focused on strengthening the core of the squad. In came Jon Walters, Phil Bardsley and Jack Cork. Not the dream signings that some may wish for but experienced Premier League players who would no doubt add nous to a squad a little lacking in that.

The real splash was made towards the end of the window with the arrival of Chris Wood from Leeds. £15 million for a striker whose never proven himself in the division may have looked a little mad a few seasons back but now it could appear a bargain should Wood score the goals Dyche will be hoping he does. He started well enough by scoring at Wembley on his debut and prolonging Spurs' misery in their temporary home by securing a point for The Clarets

Four points from trips to last season's top two isn't to be sniffed at and their win at Stamford Bridge on the opening day equalled last season's entire total of away league wins, which of course came at Selhurst Park. Given that they'll do well to get anywhere near last season's return from home fixtures, early indication that they'll be more positive on the road will have pleased Dyche.

Palace's last two visits to Turf Moor have ended in 3-2 results -- one in Palace's favour and the most recent a defeat. Another win would make for good viewing but whether Palace are scorers of two or three goals will be of vital importance for the current manager and his future as Palace boss.

Not many thought a single game would have the potential to signal the end of de Boer's tenure so soon but Turf Moor could be the scene of de Boer's most important 90 minutes for a very long time.

Glamour of the Premier League, eh?

Key players

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Tom Heaton

Without doubt, one of the most impressive goalkeepers across the top flight last season, Heaton has started this season impressively too. Club captain and now an England squad regular, Heaton has come along way since way being released by Manchester United.

With a World Cup on the horizon, the dream of starting England's first group game in Russia next June will surely be a thought within Heaton's mind each time he takes to the pitch this season. That said, Gareth Southgate's persistence in selecting Joe Hart for the two recent qualifiers, despite his indifferent form of the last two years, is likely to have deterred some of the excitement.

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Jack Cork

Impressive at Southampton and excellent at Swansea, Cork is one of those players who drifts under the radar. Burnley's club record signing, until Chris Wood arrived, Cork represents an upgrade on what was in Burnley's engine room previously.

While Cork will add little to his new side going forward, his ability to organise those around him and continually communicate with teammates will add further resistance to Sean Dyche's already well oiled defensive setup.

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Chris Wood

A debut goal last time out at Wembley will certainly have settled Wood after he got the move into the top flight he and his representatives had been working on all summer. Few mid ranking Premier League clubs weren't linked with the New Zealander during the summer but it was Burnley who matched Leeds' asking price for the jewel in their crown.

Burnley were without a prolific goal scorer last season and if Wood can reach 15+ league goals this season, it'll certainly help his side maintain their Premier League status into a third season.