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March 22 2019 5.00am

Key clashes: Burnley v Palace

February 28 2019

Martin Kelly

Martin Kelly

Hunter Young compares the key clashes ahead of Crystal Palace's trip to Burnley.

Palace saw their unbeaten run of six games in all competitions come to an end in midweek as they were defeated by the resurgent Red Devils. However, Palace did play well and the final score-line was not indicative of the match.

Burnley have also been on good form recently with their loss to Newcastle on Tuesday their first Premier League defeat in 2019. Despite both clubs’ recent good streaks, they enter this game even on points and only five above the relegation zone, so will be looking to secure a vital win.

James Tomkins v Ashley Barnes

Ever since Burnley began their decent run the goals have been flowing for Ashley Barnes. He currently leads the team in goals this season with five of his strikes coming since December 30. Barnes is the prototypical target forward and is good at holding up the ball and drawing the defence in.

The man tasked with limiting Barnes will be Palace’s defensive leader, James Tomkins. Tomkins has turned in an excellent season to this point but the pressure upon him will only go up with the serious knee injury Mamadou Sakho sustained. With backups Martin Kelly and potentially Joel Ward alongside him in defence, Tomkins will need to step up and take charge, which he has proven capable of doing.

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Martin Kelly v Chris Wood

The second half of The Clarets’ red-hot strike partnership is Chris Wood. The forward has been in even better form than Barnes recently, scoring six goals since the start of the new year. While still a physically imposing player, Wood is a bit quicker than Barnes and will look to make runs off of him to confuse the Palace defence.

With the aforementioned injury to Sakho, Martin Kelly looks to be in line to see out the rest of the season alongside James Tomkins. Kelly will need to stay on the top of his game though as Scott Dann has returned to fitness and is likely itching to get back into the starting line-up. If he can helping keep a clean sheet against Burnley will go a long way towards Kelly continuing to hold off Dann.

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Michy Batshuayi v Ben Mee

Season in and season out Ben Mee continues to be a consistent performer for Burnley. The English centre-back has appeared in all 28 of their Premier League matches and is one of the team’s leaders on and off the pitch. While Burnley’s defence has not lived up to the lofty standards they set last season, the talented partnership of Mee and James Tarkowski cannot be disrespected.

Since arriving on deadline day on loan from Chelsea, Michy Batshuayi has adjusted well to life in South London. After scoring his first goal in his first start last weekend, the Belgian turned in another solid performance against Manchester United, despite not finding his way onto the scoresheet. The striker will fancy his chances this weekend after the Burnley defence let in two goals to a Newcastle side that have only scored more goals than Huddersfield Town this season.

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