In what many deemed a must win game for the Eagles, they did not disappoint. In fact, it was quite the opposite as Palace put in a performance that will live long in the memory. Here is what we learnt from the all important victory.
1. Burnley were bad, really bad, but this was comfortably Palace’s most accomplished performance at Selhurst Park this season. It’s not every week that the Eagles slice through their opponents at will, creating nearly thirty attempts on goal without once looking troubled defensively in the process, so it’s perfectly acceptable to bask in the glory of Saturday’s display while acknowledging that there are greater tests to come. Palace simply had to beat Burnley on Saturday, but to do it in such comprehensive fashion gave the whole club a lift at the start of what is a vitally important week.
2. Something happened to Max Meyer during the international break. The German showed glimpses of what he might be able to produce against Manchester United, but against Burnley, where he was afforded even more time and space on the ball, he ran the game from midfield and dictated the pace of Palace’s play. His ability to link defence and attack has meant that Luka Milivojevic is no longer trying to do too much on his own, while he’s quickly formed an understanding with Cheikhou Kouyate who himself is becoming an unsung hero in midfield. It might have taken a little longer than first hoped, but Meyer is improving with each passing week that he’s been given the opportunity to acclimatise to the Premier League, and without wanting to get carried away, you can’t help but feel that Palace might have a very special player on their hands.
3. Andros Townsend has often had to live in the shadow of Wilfried Zaha, so it was a delight to see one of his long range efforts finally fly into the top corner. It’s no secret that the 27-year-old doesn’t play a hand in as many goals as his Ivorian teammate, but the Englishman doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for the tireless shifts he consistently puts in up and down the right hand side. Townsend can sometimes be a victim of the workload laid upon his shoulders, but Saturday proved he does still possess the quality to produce match-winning moments. His miss against Manchester United at Old Trafford is likely to have weighed heavily on his mind over the past week, so it felt fitting that he was the man to cap off a free-flowing performance with a suitably eye-catching goal.
4. Despite Palace’s dominance, the game was still emblematic of the home side’s struggles in front of goal this season. Even though the Eagles never looked in danger of conceding against Burnley, they still had to rely on a fluke goal and a wonder strike to see off their visitors. Granted, another day might have seen Zaha’s strike bounce in off the crossbar, or one of Meyer’s efforts drop the right side of the post, but Palace’s wastefulness again demonstrated that this team is crying out for a natural goal scorer. The time for depending on our defence is over; getting Christian Benteke fit and firing or investing in a striker in January will determine whether Palace either push on or continue to flirt with the relegation zone during the second half of the season.
5. It’s good to have the Holmesdale Fanatics back. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, the noise that oscillates from Block B has become part of Palace’s identity in recent years, and the atmosphere on Saturday was – unsurprisingly – the best it’s been all season. It’s clear that the players respond to the backing of that pocket of fans in the corner, and with everyone now finally pulling in the same direction, you can only hope that it might lead to an upturn in Palace’s home form.