Clarets set to defend Fortress Turf Moor against the Palace invasion

By The Editor's Chair
07 September 2017

The script is already written.

After a summer of speculation among fans and in the media that Sean Dyche might be leaving Burnley to manage Crystal Palace , there will be a special significance  in seeing Sean Dyche directing operations in front of the Burnley dugout on Sunday.

The Clarets play their second home game of the season against a dispirited Crystal Palace side who have had a dreadful start to the season, losing all of their first 3 league games with no goals scored.

It's hard to see any improvement to their team for Sunday with potential match winner  Wilfred Zaha still injured and the much needed new signing from a Palace point of view, central defender Mamadou Sakho, said to be still lacking  match fitness.

New manager, Frank de Boer,  is under severe pressure and has already held talks with the Palace board. Another defeat on Sunday will surely spell the end of his short career with the club. The irony  that it could be Sean Dyche applying the final sword will not be lost on many fans.

For the moment however, it's back to normal.

Things are beginning to settle since the Clarets last match to Spurs two weeks ago. The transfer window and the international break are now thankfully both out of the way.

The extension of the transfer window into the first 3 games of the season and the International breaks are thought to be  a hindrance by many and I certainly must agree with that point of view.

It's great to have Premier League football back at Turf Moor after the disappointment of the West Bromwich defeat game. This is a new look Sean Dyche  squad and the scene is nicely set for another full house at Turf Moor.

A big new welcome to Turf Moor will be given  to the Wembley match saver Chris Wood. Nakki Wells a player Sean Dyche has been keen to sign for the last two or three seasons  will have to wait a little longer before he dons the Claret and Blue shirt .

While Frank de Boer's style and formation continues to misfire, the Clarets players are adapting to their second consecutive season in the Premier League very well. Steven Defour and Jack Cork continued their great understanding against Spurs and are looking like they've been playing together in a midfield partnership for years.

James Tarkowski and Ben Mee are beginning to assert  themselves  as the main central defensive partnership, which many Burnley fans hoped would happen after the departure of Michael Keane to northern neighbours and Premier League rivals Everton.

New partnerships are flourishing at Turf Moor and suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, Sean Dyche may have found a third potentially match winning partnership in Robbie Brady and  Chris Wood.

Ex-Spurs player Danny Murphy, a commentator I normally have plenty of time for, surprisingly  questioned on Match of the Day whether Robbie Brady actually meant his sublime through ball to new Clarets' signing Chris Wood? 

Last season's leading Championship scorer and Burnley's record signing Chris Wood finished beautifully on his Burnley league debut for an injury time equaliser, just a week after arriving from Leeds.  Murphy conveniently forget to mention the other excellent through balls to Wood that Brady had played before the well deserved goal arrived.

For the Burnley fans who are now asking, 'Can we play away every week?' after the great results against Chelsea and Spurs and the home defeat to West Bromwich, may I respectfully suggest it's a wee bit too early to start questioning the Clarets' home form . 

Burnley generally outplayed West Brom but the simple matter is the Baggies are the Clarets' English Premier League bogey team. That being said the Clarets will need to improve on their finishing against Crystal Palace if they are to bag the full three points on Sunday.

Four points away to Chelsea and Spurs are massive but remaining realistic,  ultimately it will be home form that will  again be the key to achieving Dyche's goal of staying in the Premier League for a third consecutive season.

The team will be helped on Sunday by a more vocal home crowd than against West Bromwich Albion, who certainly know how to draw the heat from the host club' supporters. For now we can focus on the Burnley player to watch.

Burnley without a doubt,  have a stronger squad this season compared to last following a strong performance in the transfer market. There remains some concern that the club didn't bring in another central defender, but most observers would agree that the Clarets now have better cover in most positions.

That leads me to my player to watch against Crystal Palace. That player is  Tom Heaton, who was denied a place in the England World Cup qualifiers by an England manager foolishly insisting on playing Joe Hart, a goalkeeper whose best days are long behind him.

Tom is irreplaceable in the Burnley side for me. And that is no disrespect to Nick Pope who may go on to have a great Burnley career one day. A clean sheet from Heaton on Sunday  will more or less guarantee us 3 points , further securing  the Clarets'our place in the top half of the table for another week.

The Dyche work rate and relentless mentally are still present from last season but it's the added extra skill that I think will take Burnley further this season.

We hope our ever growing contingent of international players are fresh from their travels over the last week .

I confidently expect that if we put away the chances we will create on Sunday, the 3 points will come our way. It would be no surprise if Scotty Arfield continues to deputise for the injured Jeff Hendrick, and Dyche starts with the team that opened against Tottenham .

In the corresponding fixture last season we had to wait for a late, late winner from Ashley Barnes to send us all home in ecstasy. Hopefully, we will make it a bit more comfortable this time .

This Burnley centric match preview was penned by uber Clarets' fan Michael Donnelly, alias "The Donz". (TEC).

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