Crystal Palace travel to Turf Moor for Sunday’s early kick-off, aiming to avoid an embarrassing 4th straight defeat and an early crisis.
To do so, they will almost certainly have to break their scoring duck against a Burnley side who have started brightly and were impressive at home throughout last season.
The Clarets were unfortunate in a narrow defeat to West Bromwich Albion in their first home game, and have picked up impressive results away to last season’s top-2 – stunning Chelsea on the opening day and rescuing a point against Tottenham Hotspur to increase their Wembley woes.
Frank de Boer has had a torrid start to Premier League management. He has overseen three defeats, including a home thrashing to new boys Huddersfield Town, and his side is yet to register a single goal. The Dutchman must now decide whether to abandon his 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 or risk an early sacking for sticking to a failing plan.
If last season is anything to go by, the game could be a cracker. Burnley won both times last campaign, including a 3-2 victory in this fixture. The Lancashire club have won three of their last five meetings.
Sean Dyche has seen early success with his 4-1-4-1 formation, utilising summer signing Jack Cork as the side’s pivot in midfield. A change to 4-4-2 is, however, a possibility, to accommodate Chris Wood (who scored on his debut against Spurs) alongside Sam Vokes.
For Palace, something drastically needs to change. Although the players must take some responsibility, it is no surprise that De Boer has faced criticism for trying to instill a new style upon a side seemingly unsuited to it. Unfortunately, the Eagle’s lack of strikers limits the options, but a 4-2-3-1 could make the best use of available personnel, help plug defensive holes and give the side more balance.
New signing Nahki Wells remains unavailable for the hosts, alongside Dean Marney and Jeff Hendrick. The latter missed the draw with Spurs due to a thigh injury and should return next week.
Palace have themselves a concerningly long injury list, including long-term absentees Connor Wickham, Pape Souare and Bakary Sako. The Eagles’ most significant loss is Wilfried Zaha, who was fit for the opening game but has had a knee injury since – the side desperately miss his creativity. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also miss out this weekend, whilst James Tomkins is a doubt. New signing Mamadou Sakho will also have to wait to make his 2nd debut for the club.
Match Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Crystal Palace
Burnley will hope to benefit from Palace’s poor start to the season and inflict further misery on Sunday. Whether De Boer alters his tactics or not, he faces a stern test against a side who thrive at home and have a considerable attacking threat.
Whilst there is still time for the Dutchman to prove his critics wrong, doing so without Sakho, Tomkins, Loftus-Cheek and Zaha may be too big an ask. At Turf Moor, at least, he will experience pure adulation from fans towards a manager.