Crystal Palace v Burnley
Saturday 13 February, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports
Zaha absent again
Crystal Palace sit 13th in the Premier League after Monday night’s 2-0 defeat at Leeds and there is a sense they are drifting in the mid-to-lower range, being 14 points clear of the relegation zone and in little danger of finding themselves dragged into trouble.
At times they have sparkled this season, with Eberechi Eze having brought more creative talent to complement Wilfried Zaha, but they have flickered intermittently in recent weeks.
The spark will be harder to find without Zaha, who is still sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Palace’s long injury list also includes defenders Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins, plus midfielders Jeffrey Schlupp and James McCarthy, and Roy Hodgson has been unable to name a full complement of subs in recent matches.
Dyche focused on league
Burnley are not yet safe in the Premier League and they are out of the FA Cup, having lost 2-0 at home to Championship side Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
Last weekend the Clarets drew 1-1 at home to Brighton in the Premier League and, with other teams having moved past them recently, they are eight points clear of the drop zone in 17th.
Sean Dyche made seven changes for the FA Cup, making clear the importance of this match, and the line-up here is likely to be along the lines of the Brighton game.
The key absentee is striker Chris Wood, who has a hamstring injury, and Dyche has to choose between Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra to form his strike duo.
Midfielders Josh Brownhill and Robbie Brady are also sidelined.
After their 5-1 victory at struggling West Brom on December 6, Palace won only one of their next 10 games in all competitions but their form has recovered in recent weeks with wins over Wolves (1-0 home) and Newcastle (2-1 away).
That mini-revival was halted by the Leeds defeat, which highlighted that the standard of opposition is a key factor.
The 10-match winless run involved seven games against teams currently in the top 10 (and Leeds are in that group now), whereas Wolves and Newcastle are below Palace in the table. So too are West Brom and Sheffield United, the other two teams they have beaten in the past three months.
It is also the case with Burnley, making this one of Palace’s better winning opportunities at 2.466/4.
The two sides are closely matched in the form tables, however, given that Burnley have picked themselves up from a poor start in which they took only two points from their first seven matches.
The Clarets’ first league win of the season came in the reverse fixture with a 1-0 victory at Turf Moor. Since then Burnley have not given up points easily, with five of their subsequent six league defeats having been against current top-six sides (the exception was a 1-0 defeat at Leeds).
Starting with the Palace win, Burnley’s record against current bottom-half teams is W4 D1 L0 and on that form they have a fair shout at 3.3512/5.
The issue with Burnley (and to a slightly extent with Palace) is that their scoring record is poor. The Clarets lead the league for blanks with 12 (Palace not that far behind with nine) and they have the lowest goals-for with just 14 in 22 matches.
Palace have a big handicap with Zaha missing, however. They have lost 17 of their last 19 Premier League games in which their talisman hasn’t played and have failed to score in 15 of those 17 defeats.
This is a tricky match to weigh up but it is worth trying a Burnley win to nil at 4.94/1.
Palace’s five defeats without Zaha this season have all been in that manner, including the 1-0 away to Burnley in November.
With both teams missing their top scorer, the obvious go-to is under 2.5 goals at 1.635/8.
Burnley have a league-leading 73% in that category (the same home and away) and Palace have 52% (rising to 64% at home).
Eight of the 11 Premier League meetings between these sides have had under 2.5 goals.
Five of those 11 have had under 1.5 goals, which is worth considering at 2.915/8.
Crystal Palace have won two of their last three Premier League home games (L1),as many as they had in their previous 12 at Selhurst Park (D4 L6). The Eagles have kept two clean sheets in this run, more than they had in their previous 12 (1). Palace are 3.55 to win to nil.