With the first home game of the restart to look forward to for the Eagles, we had a chat with the guys at The Cricket Field End about their season so far, thoughts on the game and much more.
Q. The Premier League is back! Are you for or against the return and regardless of your opinion, how do you think the powers that be have dealt with it?
I am definitely FOR the return of football, might be because with being a big football fan, it was missed on a massive scale. I guess safety is paramount and surely those at the FA or the Premier League knew it was manageable to bring it back with the implemented guidelines. Have they dealt with it correctly? YES and NO. The rules are so up and down i.e. no handshakes, social distancing celebrations, no spitting or clearing your airways during a game. Them rules are up there with recording the Top 40 on a tape back in the day. Nobody is abiding by it. They celebrate, they clear their throats. Battling for the ball against another sweaty athlete. I think it could be dealt with better.
Q. What did you make of the game at Turf Moor earlier in the season?
Losing a game at home is always devastating, also seems like so long ago, I had to even look up the fixture! I remember the defeat now though. We were poor that day, we had an effort cleared off the line, Chris Wood with a clear chance after a bad header back and he skied it. Other than that there was no effort to push for a result. The first goal was just poor defending, sitting off Wilfried Zaha and giving a player of his calibre space is never a good option and for Pope to be beaten at his near post was a blow. Similarly for the second goal really except the usually solid Ben Mee just made an absolute hash of clearing the ball and your super sub, Jeffrey Schlupp, just hit a rocket straight past Pope and it killed the game off.
Q. How has the season been for you so far and what are you expecting from the run in?
Hmm… Tough question, we had a ropey start to the campaign and then found our feet a little. Obviously the halt in play was an unwelcome distraction really, we were unbeaten in seven I think and potentially pushing for a Europa place once again. With everything that’s occurred recently, Its gonna be tough for any team, Burnley and Palace are in that hunt for a Europa spot if results keep on coming but the run in and the fact its behind closed doors makes for a huge difference to teams such as ours ,who use the fans as a 12th man.
Q, Who is your player of the season for Burnley?
Only one man really, Dwight McNeil. His ability on the wing, his crossing, his cohesion with left back, Charlie Taylor, on that left side has made us strong this season. Dwight’s father came out recently and said it would be best for him to stay put at Burnley and keep his head down and learn. The Burnley fan me agrees 100% but I would not begrudge him moving to a top six side. You’re looking at a future England International. His career is only just forming but his statistics since coming up from youth team level to play first team football are phenomenal for a player at Burnley.
Q. With both Palace and Burnley looking pretty much safe this season, what now for clubs of our size? Is staying up enough, or do you want more?
Yes, I agree. Safety is in the bag already. What now? I’m not sure, I’ll accept a ‘creeping into mid table’ position every season. The club still look at it from a ’17th and above is positive’ view but where both our clubs are currently sat, European football is a possibility dependent on results. I am not being greedy, like some fans who expect European football or better since we achieved that feat. I said I’d take 13th place to you guys last year and I’d stick with that for this campaign too.
Q. As we look ahead to the off season, where does Sean Dyche need to strengthen for next campaign?
Ideally, I’d personally say right back, right midfield and another central midfielder. At right back we have 30 year old Matt Lowton and the 34 year old Phil Bardsley. On the right of midfield we have Johan Berg Gudmundsson who’s been subject to injuries this season and Jeff Hendrick who like Bardsley will be out of contract at the end of the season. Hendrick is naturally a central midfielder but putting him on the right has been a masterclass from Sean Dyche. Whatever happens in terms of transfers it’s going to be hard for all clubs after the pandemic.
Q. Who will finish top four which teams will be relegated and who would you like to see promoted?
The league title is Liverpool’s, we can all agree with that. City keep up momentum on their win over Arsenal and their win over us then second place is their’s. I think Chelsea will take third place over Leicester and the latter side finishing fourth. Relegation wise, Norwich are in serious trouble. It’s not like they don’t have the talent though, it’s just not worked for them, players like Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell will get other chances at Premier League teams when the transfer window opens next season.
Bournemouth have thrown cash at signings like Jefferson Lerma and Dominic Salanke. Losing Ryan Fraser is massive for Eddie Howe’s side and will be one of the reasons they follow Norwich. It’s all down to Watford, West Ham and Villa, I can’t see past Villa though, it’s that newly promoted side syndrome. They’ve tactically got it wrong, signings haven’t hit the heights I’m sure Villa fans will have wanted and again like Norwich will lose key players like McGinn, Grealish and Mings. From a promotion perspective, I’ll keep it short. West Brom to win it, Notts Forest in the play-offs and I want Leeds to come up in second, so I can watch them get beat every week and go down again!!
Q. What have you made of Palace this season?
Palace have had a similar season to ourselves. It’s been an up and down campaign. Palace, like us are sitting comfortably in the league and both teams are safe. If anything, after you’re recent 2-0 win away at Bournemouth, I’d say you are in the driving seat for that Europa League push.
Q. Name one player from each side that will be the ones to watch in this fixture?
The usual suspects would be McNeil and Zaha. I’m gonna go outside the box with my thinking and say for Palace, Gary Cahill. He’s a big aerial threat, will cut out a lot of Burnley attacks and could be pivotal to providing a clean sheet. For Burnley, I’m gonna say Ashley Westwood. His presence from corners, his awareness of finding men in the final third. I think both will be key.
Q. Your prediction?
A good old game of cat and mouse with no end product for either side. A boring 0-0 draw but it won’t be from the lack of trying. Both sides want points to push further up the table but common sense tells me both sides would settle for the point.