It's not quite last chance saloon but if we don't start winning games again soon then any hopes of getting into the top six will be gone.
We've not been in a play off position since beating Derby at the end of November last season. We got close this season and went into the New Year in seventh place having beaten Hull City at home. That's as close as we've got in terms of league position and at the time we were three points behind sixth. By the end of January we were just two points away and things were looking good.
|Michael Duff is hoping to be fit|
Unfortunately, since then we've hit a lean patch and won just once in six games, that a 2-0 home win over Barnsley, and drawn one. It's seen us drop into the bottom half of the table and left us with eight points to make up.
I don't think anyone can have many complaints about three of the recent defeats. I believe those at Southampton and Reading and the home game against Millwall were deserved, but last week's game at Vicarage Road should, without doubt, have seen us coming home with all three points and that would have left things looking somewhat healthier.
They reckon Championship form is around two points per game and that's what is probably needed at least now with twelve games left. If we did get that it would see us finish on 71 points and in most seasons that's not been quite enough.
So, a win against Palace is an absolute must if we are going to be in any sort of position to start challenging those play off places.
Captain Chris McCann looked back at the Watford defeat. “You learn a little bit about yourself and about everyone else in the team after games like that,” he said.
“I think you need to tell a few home truths after the game, like we did. Everybody had a long in-depth chat in the changing room and we just aired a few things out and vented our frustration.
“When that happens you’ve got to take things on board and use it as a positive criticism not as a personal criticism. I think everyone feels better after that this week. We’ve come back in on Monday with a clean slate, everyone’s raring to go again and we’ve trained really well this week.
“Now we’ve got to take the positives from training and take them into the game (Palace) and try not to make the same errors that we’ve made in previous games. Keeping our concentration and not taking other teams too lightly is a massive point that we need to take on board.
“When you’re 2-0 up you’ve got to keep going and try to put it out of sight and don’t let them back into the game.
"You don’t want to feel like that again. We were all bitterly disappointed. At 2-0 up we felt great and comfortable. To our own downfall we did switch off and took them a little bit too lightly and ultimately we got punished.
"This league is far too hard for teams to think 2-0 is out of sight. You’ve got to be playing for the full 90 minutes.”
For today's game, there is a chance that Junior Stanislas could return and I'm sure everyone is hoping Michael Duff will be fit to resume given the collapse at Watford once he'd gone off. He's missed a lot of training this week and we can only hope he comes through a fitness test.
Will we make any changes? I thought last week could see a return for Martin Paterson at the expense of Charlie Austin. It didn't happen and Austin started, but today might just see Pato get his first start since picking up his hamstring injury at Middlesbrough.
No other injuries have been reported and, should Duff be fit, we might just have a full strength squad to select from although I don't expect either of Andre Amougou or Keith Treacy to be involved.
We could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Josh McQuoid, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley, Junior Stanislas, Charlie Austin, Danny Ings.
Our Opponents - Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace go into the game one place and one point ahead of us, courtesy of their midweek draw at Coventry.
It's been a decent enough season for them given they were one of the relegation favourites ahead of the kick off having ended last season in 21st place, albeit six points clear of the drop in the end. It was late April before they reached safety with a win against Leeds United.
Manager Dougie Freedman took charge just before the appointment of Eddie Howe at Burnley, and he's guided them into this much better position this season. However, it's at a cost in that there are suggestions that he's very much divided he fans because of his style of play.
It's been described by one web site as Peter Taylor-esque defensive football and even suggestions that his tactics are holding back the team. The simple figures are that they've scored just 35 goals in 34 league games and that's worse than every other team other than the bottom four.
On the other hand, those 34 games have seen them concede only 31 goals and that is the best in the division, other than the paltry 26 that defensively minded Hull City have conceded.
Glenn Murray and Chris Martin are their joint leading goalscorers with 5 goals each in the league. Murray was signed last summer from fierce rivals Brighton with Martin arriving on loan from Norwich in November.
Martin was used as a substitute in both our games against Norwich last season and scored their first goal in the 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.
Palace's current form isn't too bad and they've lost just one of their last nine league games, that a 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in January. Since then they've won two and drawn five with all four away games having been drawn at Middlesbrough (0-0), Bristol City (2-2), West Ham (0-0) and the midweek 1-1 draw at Coventry.
Those are their only away draws this season but they have won six league games on the road at Hull, Brighton, Watford, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest and Millwall.
For today's game they will be without midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi who sustained a hamstring injury on international duty with South Africa and Nathaniel Clyne is ruled out with a knee problem which means Paul McShane, who played at Turf Moor for Hull on New Year's Eve, will continue to deputise.
David Wright (calf injury) and Jonny Williams, who has recovered from a broken leg, are both closing in on a return but whether they make today's game remains to be seen. Two players who are fit are Sean Scannell and Dean Moxey who have had a tight calf and knee injury respectively.
Moxey returned as a substitute at Coventry when Palace lined up: Julian Speroni, Paul McShane, Anthony Gardner, Patrick McCarthy, Jonathan Parr, Wilfried Zaha, Owen Garvan, Mile Jedinak, Darren Ambrose (Dean Moxey 70), Jermaine Easter (Glenn Murray 53), Chris Martin (Kwesi Appiah 85). Subs not used: Lewis Price, Stuart O'Keefe.
Last Time They Were Here
It's just over a year since Palace were at Burnley, one year and five days to be exact. We won the game 1-0 with an early Jay Rodriguez goal with the result lifting us into seventh place in the table, four points behind Leeds and with two games in hand.
We'd beaten Preston at Deepdale in the previous game and it was no surprise when Eddie Howe named the same starting line up. The only changes came on the bench where David Edgar and Brian Easton replaced Charlie Austin and Steven Thompson.
|An early Jay Rodriguez goal won the game|
On a day when seven of the eight teams who started above us failed to win, we were in front as early as the third minute. Jack Cork played the ball from the left to Rodriguez in a more central role and the Clarets' hit man fired in a shot from 30-yards that left Palace's debutant goalkeeper Lewis Price with no chance other than one of collecting the ball from the back of the net.
The rest of the first half saw Burnley well on top but, just as had been the case at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, we just couldn't find a goal. At least this time we were in front and the score remained at 1-0 as the players went in at half time.
Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Cork and Rodriguez had run the show in the first 45 minutes but we never quite got going after the break although thankfully Palace, who were awful and constantly gave the ball away, showed little if any improvement.
Even so, at 1-0 there is always a concern and the main concern came from Darren Ambrose set pieces. He was very close with one and from his next it needed a stunning save from Lee Grant to keep us in front.
Palace were to have one big chance and they should have equalised. Somehow they blazed a shot over and that was that, another three points to add to the total, taking us up to 53 points with 13 games still to go.
Burnley: Lee Grant, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff, Danny Fox, Jack Cork, Dean Marney, Ross Wallace (David Edgar 90+3), Chris Eagles (Graham Alexander 87), Jay Rodriguez, Chris Iwelumo (Wade Elliott 59). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Andre Bikey, Brian Easton, Marvin Bartley.
Crystal Palace: Lewis Price, Nathaniel Clyne, David Wright (Jermaine Easter 81), Patrick McCarthy, Dean Moxey, Darren Ambrose, Anthony Gardner, Kagisho Dikgacoi (Sean Scannell 69), Neil Danns, Steffen Iversen (Pablo Counago 69), James Vaughan. Subs not used: Julian Speroni, Claude Davis, Wilfried Zaha, Adam Barrett.
Previous Games against Crystal Palace
|Last 20 Years|
|Worth'tn Cup||h||2-2||5,889||Cooke, Payton(pen)|
|Worth'tn Cup||a||1-1||5,720||Cooke - lost on away goals|
|2003/04||Division 1||h||2-3||12,976||Blake, Roche|
|h||4-2||10,312||Carlisle, Alexander(pen), Thompson, Rodriguez|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Crystal Palace