Palace twice found themselves ahead at Turf Moor but couldn’t hold off a tenacious Burnley side, who themselves will be disappointed not to have won the game at the end. Here are five things I learned from my trip to Lancashire.
Inability To Defend From Set Pieces Laid Bare
This was a game where Palace started in the ascendancy, playing the ball around with the confidence of a side that looked like it is enjoying life under Patrick Vieira. Indeed, when they took the lead inside the first ten minutes, their hosts had barely had a kick. But the balance of play shifted from the moment Burnley got their first corner. Palace’s inability to defend set pieces was once again laid bare and from that point on Burnley grew in confidence as they set about exploiting the Eagles’ weaknesses with high balls and deliveries into the box. The away side deserve credit for how they responded to going behind in the first half, but they are going to keep dropping points for as long as they fail to deal with dead ball situations. Vieira will also be keen to address Palace’s leaky defence away from home. Of the 17 goals conceded this season, 13 have come away from Selhurst Park.
Benteke Is A Striker In Form Of Old
If we didn’t know it already, Christian Benteke is well and truly back. The Belgian has endured a difficult time at Palace since his debut season, but has carried his form from the end of the last campaign into this one. Benteke has always divided opinion but is now delivering the performances that justify the faith Palace have shown in him over the years. He seems to have responded positively to both the arrival of new competition in the forward positions and a more attacking style of play. Even against Burnley he could have left Turf Moor with more than the two goals that he scored, but if Palace continue to create chances for him it feels inevitable that he’ll finish the season somewhere close to his best goals haul for the club.
We Have The Entertainment We Craved
Vieira’s Palace won’t die wondering. We’ve been programmed over the years to think that Palace should always be happy with a point, that there is nothing wrong with shutting up shop when level in the game with ten minutes to go. But under Vieira things are different. As frustrating as it was to see Palace let Burnley back into the game – and despite how close the home side came to winning it – there was always a feeling that the Eagles could themselves score every time they went forward. Perhaps the best indication of Vieira’s ambition was that he brought on Odsonne Edouard for Luka Milivojevic in the closing stages of the game, potentially leaving Palace more vulnerable but also giving them a better chance of snatching a late victory. We asked for more entertainment and that’s what we’re getting.
Milivojevic And Kouyate Not Ideal Pairing
Palace started with a team designed to match Burnley’s physicality but still struggled to keep control of the game. There were times in the first half where the visitors needed to take the sting out of the match by keeping possession and dominating the ball as they had in the opening stages. However, the midfield became chaotic after Burnley equalised and the game turned into a bit of a scrappy encounter, which more than suited the Clarets. It perhaps illustrated the downside of starting both Luka Milivojevic and Cheikhou Kouyate in the same midfield, who between them struggled to slow things down and take control of the game. With James McArthur out for the next few weeks, it might be an opportunity for Vieira to test the likes of Eberechi Eze or Will Hughes in his place.
Solid Foundation Is There To Build On
Palace will have left Turf Moor a little jarred having twice found themselves ahead against stubborn opposition. But it was also a game they could have lost were it not for the reflexes of Vicente Guaita. The second half got away from the visitors, who became more threatening with the introduction of Michael Olise but ultimately looked a little shaken by Burnley’s style of play. With that being said, the Eagles can take confidence from the fact that they were still able to score three goals and emerge with a point in a game where their performance was more disjointed than what we’ve been used to this season. Palace are now seven unbeaten and have laid a solid foundation to try to climb the table going into the festive period – being disappointed with a draw isn’t necessarily a bad thing.