And with that, I’m gone. It was, well, rubbish. Palace, while less awful than they have been, were still far from good. Whether this improvement will prove enough to save the manager’s job remains to be seen. Bye!
Frank de Boer talks:
I think everybody who was watching, there was only one team deserving to win today and it was us. But that’s football, and sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. But we can also blame ourselves, to give the ball away and not score our opportunities.
I said before the match that I have a good feeling with the squad, I had confidence. They didn’t start with that confidence. Afterwards we played how we can play, sometimes with long balls, sometimes on the ground. We created our chances, almost didn’t give anything away. We controlled the game, and then you have to reward yourself.
We didn’t score, and we don’t have any points. It’s unbelievable when you see this game. But if you’re going to play like this each week you’ll get what you deserve, and that is points. Football is about making goals, no doubt about it, and we need to do that much better of course.
Burnley only had three shots on target. They grafted well enough, but displayed depressingly little flair. Palace put in 38 crosses, of which approximately 35 were rubbish.
James Tarkowski is the man of the match.
It was a good day. It’s what I’m there to do. Win some headers, block a few shots and it was a positive result in the end. It was a tough day. A lot of balls coming in. Come out a bit battered and bruised but three points is the most important.
Final score: Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
A brilliantly entertaining first five minutes followed by a dismal final 85, particularly for Palace. They remain goalless and pointless, thanks to Lee Chung-yong’s early error and Scott Dann’s late one.
90+3 mins: Palace contrive to spend an entire minute over a defensive throw-in, as Schlupp tries to run a few bonus yards downfield and the referee doesn’t let him. And then they concede a corner, and that looks like curtains.
90+1 mins: Into stoppage time, of which there will be three minutes or so.
90 mins: Benteke knocks down to Cabaye, who sends an excellent cross to the far post. The keeper desperately scrambles across his line, resigned to the inevitable, but Dann misses the best chance of the game.
89 mins: Palace miss a sitter! Scott Dann heads wide from three yards out!
88 mins: Cabaye’s 35-yarder is pretty but easily saved.
87 mins: Another Palace corner. It goes the way of the other 12. No13 follows.
87 mins: This one, like the previous 11, comes to nothing.
86 mins: Townsend, for the first time today, is allowed to shift the ball onto his left foot and shoot. The shot, though, is deflected wide. Another Palace corner.
84 mins: Dann has another shot cleared off the line! A corner comes off a defender’s head and lands at Dann’s feet beyond the far post, and his low, hard shot was on its way in* when it was cleared by Tarkowski’s fine sliding defensive backheel!
* Actually Lowton, on the far post, would probably have cleared it if Tarkowski hadn’t.
83 mins: Burnley bring Westwood on for Defour.
81 mins: Palace make a second change, bringing Jaïro Riedeweld on for McArthur. “There’s something utterly ridiculous about the fact that a manager is about to be sacked because he has angered a squad of professional footballers, all of whom have been playing since they were children, by asking them to pass the ball to each other,” rages David Flynn. This is true. But De Boer can either forge this squad into a team that might win games, or he can’t. Whatever the reasons, if he can’t, and he’s not going to, he’s got to go. This is not to suggest that he has been given sufficient chance to prove it yet, mind.
80 mins: Benteke heads the ball down to Townsend, who passes it back, and the Belgian bursts past Lumeka, into the area, and sidefoots a low shot that clipped the foot of the onrushing, spreadeagled Pope!
79 mins: Chance! A chance for Palace to score a goal! And Pope makes a fine, brave save!
78 mins: For a moment there it looked like Cabaye’s low cross was going to pick out Benteke in the penalty area. But then Tarkowski flung himself at the ball and got a foot to it, so it didn’t.
75 mins: Benteke is booked for inexplicably jumping into Tarkowski.
74 mins: Good save! From a good shot! Incredible scenes! Ashley Barnes did the shooting, and his left-footed effort from 20 yards was curling in at the far post until Hennessey pushed it away.
72 mins: The ball drops at the feet of Schlupp, just inside the penalty area, with time to control and compose himself before shooting. This is the chance for Palace! This is what they’ve been waiting for! Cometh the hour, cometh the … effort bewilderingly ballooned over the bar.
71 mins: A good cross! Palace have put in a good cross! Townsend provided it, and Lumeka’s header when very well placed was deflected wide!
They’ve been workmanlike today. Wood took his goal well, though Palace made it easy for him. Beyond that, though, an absence of entertainment or quality.
67 mins: Burnley are gradually emerging from the rock they crawled under at half-time. This has, so far, been a pretty dismal half of football.
64 mins: Lee Chung-Yong, who set up Burnley’s goal and has since sent in countless rubbish crosses, goes off, and the young winger Levi Lumeka comes on.
64 mins: A nice move from Burnley, who play the ball wide to Gudmunsson, who passes to the overlapping Lowton, but it rather peters out from there. Sean Dyche reacts by taking Vokes off, and bringing Ashley Barnes on.
62 mins: Unless Burnley’s central defenders fall asleep and thus fail to head away one of Palace’s optimistic, powder-puff crosses, a random Townsend thunderbolt increasingly looks the visitors’ best chance of actually scoring. The latest attempt is well blocked by a rushing Mee.
60 mins: Burnley put the ball into Palace’s penalty area, probably for the first time this half. It bounces straight out of play. Goal kick.
56 mins: Palace’s attacking in these first 10 minutes of the second half has been entirely concentrated down the left flank. I don’t think they’ve had the ball on the right wing at all. But still they haven’t done much with it. They’ve got a great header of the ball in Benteke, but sadly no great crossers of the ball.
53 mins: It’s all Palace at the moment, though their work is all taking place outside the penalty area. They work the ball wide, they cross, it’s headed clear, they pick up the loose ball. Rinse and repeat.
51 mins: McArthur runs into the area, and Schlupp has a straightforward task to pick him out, but he overhits his pass straight out of play.
49 mins: Palace are doing fine here. Not brilliantly, clearly, but they’re not the hapless calamity-magnets they’ve been painted as. They are, though, clearly more comfortably in today’s 4-3-3 formation.
46 mins: And an early half-chance for Palace, as Benteke heads Schlupp’s cross well wide of goal.
46 mins: Peeeeep! Palace get the second half started. Both sides are unchanged.
The players are back out. More football incoming.
Back to the subject of menus, then. Pleasingly, John Salako said in the early stages of this match that he thought it would be “a game of nutrition”.
Half time: Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
Palace have looked pretty solid, they’ve created some decent chances and won a variety of set pieces, but they’ve also gifted Burnley a comedy goal, which is the kind of nonsense that they should really be avoiding.
45+4 mins: It’s not a great centre by Puncheon, the referee spots some pushing in the area, and he blows once to give Burnley a free-kick, and then a couple of extra times for half-time.
45+3 mins: The half will end with yet another Palace corner, won by Schlupp.
45+1 mins: Townsend has a right-footed shot from 20 yards which deflects off Mee, taking most of the pace from it, and allows Pope to make a straightforward first save.
45+1 mins: There’ll be about three minutes of stoppage time, we’re told.
45 mins: Gudmunsson, who has been bright on the right, bustles his way down the right and crosses, but it’s headed away.
40 mins: Palace are yet to test Pope, though surely that’ll come. The minutes since Heaton’s injury have been scrappy and featureless.
36 mins: That looks like a dislocation. Heaton heads to the dressing-room to receive further treatment, and Nick Pope replaces him.
35 mins: Robbie Brady is booked for a foul on Townsend during that move. Heaton is still receiving treatment.
34 mins: After a Palace break Lee scoops a looping cross into the penalty area. Heaton screams for it, claims it, lands awkwardly and screams again. The physio comes on to assess his left shoulder.
32 mins: Cabaye’s shot hits the wall, rebounds to Cabaye, and the next shot hits the wall as well.
31 mins: Cabaye goes to ground again, and this time he wins a free-kick just outside the penalty area. He did, to be fair, appear to be fouled by Ward.
29 mins: Burnley win a free-kick on the half-way line. Both centre-backs trot forward in anticipation of the ball being sent into the mixer. It’s played short, and then passed back to the goalkeeper, puzzlingly.
27 mins: Cabaye has the ball in midfield, with an opponent at his shoulder. He passes the ball safely and then collapses and rolls around a bit. When the referee ignores him he pops straight back up. Absolutely shameless play-acting there.
25 mins: Joel Ward produces a goal-saving header! It’s a lovely cross from Gudmundsson on the right, and Brady was preparing to volley it into a yawning net when the flying Ward sent it behind instead!
24 mins: Burnley win their first corner, after Ward’s cross is turned behind. Nothing comes of it.
22 mins: The corner picks out McArthur, who heads just wide!
21 mins: Yet another Palace corner. The last time Burnley scored a goal in or before the third minute was … the last time they played Burnley at home, when Vokes scored in the second minute.
19 mins: They certainly have looked threatening from wide areas. Unfortunately, the defence they have most seriously threatened is their own.
17 mins: A Townsend cross towards Benteke is headed away, but it’s another Palace corner, which duly leads to yet another Palace corner. It’s probably unwise to concede so many set pieces to a team containing Benteke and Dann.
15 mins: Mee has the ball at left-back for Burnley, with Townsend closing him down. He nicely takes the ball around the Palace winger, bringing a roar of approval from the home fans, and then floats an aimless ball forward to nobody. Talk about spoiling the moment.
13 mins: This one is eventually clipped to Schlupp in the area, whose control is excellent but whose decision to try to dance past two defenders is a little misguided. The second one takes the ball off him.
12 mins: Another Palace corner on the left, and this time Puncheon plays it deep to Cabaye, unmarked 25 yards out, but it doesn’t fall kindly, and though he does improvise a shot he’s lucky to get another corner from it.
10 mins: Hennessey’s clearance is headed right back whence it came, Wood beats Fosu-Mensah to the bouncing ball and would have had another excellent chance had Dann not come across to clean up.
8 mins: And so does Vokes! Palace’s Ward dives in on Burnley’s Ward but misses both ball and player, and the cross picks out Vokes’s run to the near post only for the striker to head across goal and wide. The last five minutes have been absolutely ludicrous.
6 mins: Now Benteke goes close! Townsend twists, turns and clips the ball into the penalty area, where Benteke easily beats Tarkowski to the header, which bounces just wide!
5 mins: And a goal-line clearance from Burnley! Palace win a corner on the left which is flicked on to Dann, who controls nicely, spins and fires low past Heaton and towards the far post, where there is a defender waiting to smash it away.
GOAL! Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace (Wood, 3 mins)
And from nothing, a goal! Lee Chung-yong has the ball on the halfway line, wide on Palace’s left, and he passes the ball into the space behind his own backline, Wood runs onto it and curls past an advancing and hopelessly exposed Hennessey!
3 mins: Not much of anything much as yet. Palace, clad in their all-black away kit, are playing as expected with a back four, who are hanging about on the half-way line, leaving plenty of space in behind.
1 min: Peeeep! The home side get us started, swiftly fling the ball forward, and it’s headed back to Hennessey.
The weather in Burnley today is pure filth: plenty of wind, and a fair amount of rain.
The players are in the tunnel. We’re about to have football.
“I can never quite figure out what are the official colours of Palace,” complains Paul Grims. “Are they blue and red? Claret and blue? the details seem ill-defined.” I don’t see any claret (though they’re sponsored and I think still co-owned by a wine merchant, so there’s that) but according to the official Premier League handbook:
Shirts: Red with Blue Stripe / Shorts: Blue / Socks: Blue with Red Hoop
“If the Palace line-up is a menu then it seems quite hard core to start the meal with a Hennessy,” notes Ian Copestake.
Sean Dyche has had a chat:
The main thing is to focus on what we’re about. We’ve started the season with a good look about us. You certainly can’t take anything for granted in the Premier League. They’re a good side. It’s more about taking the game on as we do. We take everybody seriously. We certainly don’t get ideas above our station. We’ve got to take the game to them today.
“Of the two team’s official team sheets, Burnley Football Club’s looks like a business card whilst Crystal Palace’s looks like a menu or the label of a cheap wine,” writes Raymond Reardon. “Whose style do you prefer?” I think Burnley’s looks a fair bit smarter, but I’m a little worried about Ben Mee and Stephen Ward. What’s happened to their hands? And what is Chris Wood doing with his? These are the important questions.
As you while away the minutes before kick-off, you should probably cast your eye over this:
Chris Wood makes his first start for Burnley. He has now played against Crystal Palace six times, once for West Bromwich Albion, once for Birmingham, once for Bristol City, once for Millwall, once for Leicester and now once for Burnley. To play your first six matches against a single opponent in the colours of six different clubs strikes me as being extremely unusual.
Frank de Boer has spoken to Sky. It’s quite interesting. Here’s a snippet:
It will always take time [to change a style of play]. Pre-season was already scheduled and it was very hard for me to change that schedule. We played four games, and normally I like to play six, seven games. You can say that’s an excuse, but it takes time to implement a different system. If we want to change the system people have to adapt. Right now we have to go back to the comfort zone for our players. And if they feel and I feel that everybody’s on board with a 4-3-3 system then we’re going to play 4-3-3. I have always believed that if you get the time, the results will come. We started a project, and we’re going to finish that project.
Palace make three changes: Tomkins, Van Aanholt and Milivojevic are out; Schlupp, Lee and Cabaye are in. As, it seems, is a back four.
The team sheets have been handed in, and these were the names upon them:
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Gudmundsson, Cork, Defour, Brady, Wood, Vokes. Subs: Barnes, Westwood, Walters, Bardsley, Long, Pope, Arfield.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Fosu-Mensah, Dann, Schlupp, McArthur, Cabaye, Puncheon, Townsend, Benteke, Lee. Subs: Speroni, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, KaiKai, Kelly, Riedewald, Lumeka.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Well, here we are. Do or quite possibly die. And it’s barely mid-September. Crystal Palace were gifted an extremely kind start to the season, featuring alongside a visit to Anfield home games against Huddersfield, Swansea and Southampton and this trip to Burnley. With three of those five matches played they are pointless, and Frank de Boer’s job appears to already be on the line. After this game and the match against the Saints next Saturday they face three successive matches that they are likely to lose, away at Manchester City and Manchester United before hosting Chelsea. They need encouragement, and they need points, and they need them quickly. No points at the end of August is disappointing, but, say, three or fewer after nine matches would be a crisis. When Palace last lost the first four games of a league season it was 1925. And they could easily lose this one, as they lost twice to Burnley last season. It is, in short, and largely thanks to Palace’s poor start to the season, extremely tasty.
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