LONDON, Jan 12 ― Things have changed a lot at Crystal Palace since they lost 1-0 to Burnley in September, a defeat which cost then manager Frank De Boer his job and left the London club staring at the prospect of relegation.
That defeat at Turf Moor was Palace's fourth straight loss of the campaign and left them without a point or even a goal to their name.
Former England manager Roy Hodgson replaced Dutchman De Boer but it was not until October 14 that Palace secured their first goal and first points of the season with a surprise victory over Chelsea.
That kick-started a run of form that has seen Palace pick up four more wins and seven draws and rise to the relative comfort of 14th in the table.
If the Burnley game marked the start of Palace's revival, then the Lancashire club can also view a match against Saturday's opponents as a turning point.
The Clarets away form last season was terrible and it was not until a 2-0 win at Selhurst Park on April 29 that they managed their first ― and only away win of the campaign which helped secure them top-flight survival.
With that monkey off their back, Burnley have this season been excellent on the road, amassing 17 points, including four wins.
“It was fantastic that we managed to get that win at that stage and it lifted all the pressure off the lads. I’m sure they’ll have fond memories and we’ll go back there looking to work hard again,” said Burnley skipper Ben Mee.
After rising as high as fourth in December, Burnley have not managed a win in their last five league games, although they have come off a tough run of fixtures which included a narrow loss to a late goal against Liverpool and a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
While Burnley can expect a much tougher test than they faced at Turf Moor in September against a much-improved Palace, they themselves may also pose a different threat following the loan signing of French winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou from Tottenham.
With Irish winger Robbie Brady out with a long-term knee injury and his replacement Scott Arfield also battling for fitness, the former Marseille wide-man could make his debut tomorrow.
Nkoudou has started just three games for Spurs since arriving in the summer of 2016, but he has appeared off the bench nine times in the Premier League and Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes his speed will be an asset.
“He hasn’t played a lot but we believe he is a wide player who has pace, is direct and a bit unknown,” Dyche said.
“We will make a decision whether we think he should start, or start on the bench. But he will be involved”. ― Reuters