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December 12 2018 11.15pm

Key clashes: Palace v Burnley

November 29 2018

Wayne Hennessey

Wayne Hennessey

The one-on-one player match-ups to watch as Crystal Palace face Burnley at home this Saturday, writes Hunter Young.

After shocking the league last season en route to an impressive seventh place finish, Burnley have fallen back to earth and come into this game sitting one place outside the relegation zone.

Palace are just one place above the Clarets, in sixteenth, with only goal difference separating the clubs. Burnley, much like Palace, have not tasted victory in the Premier League since September and both sides will enter this fixture targeting a key three points.

Wayne Hennessey v Sam Vokes

Despite Burnley spending money on new strikers the last two summers on Chris Wood and Matej Vydra, Sam Vokes has maintained the top forward spot this season. The Welshman has made over 200 appearances for the Clarets and leads the team in goals this season. Vokes is also very dangerous in the air and is the main target for crosses from players such as Gudmundsson and fellow winger Aaron Lennon.

There is not a Palace fan out there whose heart didn’t jump into their throat before Hennessey’s world-class save to thwart Romelu Lukaku and keep the clean sheet. The lanky keeper has improved his consistency this campaign and will be looking for a fourth league shut-out. If he can put together another performance, he will have no problem keeping out Vokes and company, and leading the Eagles to victory.

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Patrick van Aanholt v Johann Berg Gudmundsson

Johann Berg Gudmundsson has proven a versatile playmaker for the Clarets this season. The Icelandic winger is capable of lining up on the left or the right, but prefers the right, which would bring him into direct contact with Patrick van Aanholt. Gudmundsson has chipped in with two goals to go with his four assists across 11 appearances and what he lacks in pace he makes up in football intelligence and savvy.

Van Aanholt will face a stiffer challenge than usual when he joins the attack as Gudmundsson is a willing and able defender who will provide support to the full-back behind him. The Dutchman could look to make amends after missing a gilt-edged chance last week against Manchester United and could see Burnley’s relative lack of pace as an opportunity to get in behind the defence.

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Andros Townsend v Ben Mee

The defensive partnership of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski is one of the best outside the top six. However, this has not stopped Burnley from conceding the second most goals in the division this season. The centre-backs rank first and second in the league in blocks but often face waves of pressure from the opposition. Mee is also crucial to the Clarets build-up play and actually leads the team in passes.

If Burnley attempt to play it out of the back of Palace, they can expect Andros Townsend to be his usual hard-working self and attempt to pressure Mee into mistakes. If turnovers can be created in the opposing half, it will be very difficult for Burnley to work their way into the match. Much like van Aanholt Townsend missed a golden chance to break the deadlock last week and will favour his chances to score against Burnley’s leaky defence.

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Email Hunter with your feedback to hjyoung44@outlook.com

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