Despite Christian Benteke scoring a brace at Turf Moor – and Marc Guehi scoring his first goal for the club – Crystal Palace had to settle for a point against Burnley with two set-pieces and a thunderous volley from Maxwel Cornet sealing a point.
Patrick Vieira made two changes from the side that defeated Wolves 2-0 prior to the international break – Luka Milivojevic replacing the injured James McArthur and Jordan Ayew coming in for Odsonne Edouard. The Frenchman also named Eberechi Eze on the bench for the first time, with the Greenwich-born playmaker recovering from a lengthy Achilles injury.
Here are Edmund Brack’s four takeaways:
BRILLIANT BENTEKE BACK TO HIS BEST
Full of confidence and playing with a freedom many believed had disappeared for good, Christian Benteke continues to excel under Vieira and is fully meriting his place in the side.
With the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta waiting in the wings, Benteke appears to be thriving off the competition for places within the new-look Crystal Palace side and put in his best performance of the season against one of the Premier League’s most established defences.
Benteke won seven aerial battles against James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, made six defensive clearances and scored his first brace since the 5-1 win against West Brom in December 2020.
The goals he scored on Saturday were born from instinct. For his first, Benteke produced an intelligent finish that found its way through Tarkowski’s legs and off the post, and then he fired a first-time shot with his right foot emphatically past Nick Pope.
Only Mohamed Salah (16) has more Premier League away goals since December than Benteke (10).
CLINICAL FIRST-HALF MATCHED BY POOR SET-PIECE DEFENDING
In the first Premier League game to see five or more first-half goals since Manchester United vs Leeds in 2004, Crystal Palace’s first 45 minutes at Turf Moor were nothing short of unadulterated carnage.
Palace’s porous defending from set-pieces opened the door for Burnley to pull back on level terms and then allowed Sean Dyche’s side to take the lead.
Conceding their eighth and ninth goals from a set piece on Saturday – the most of any Premier League side this season – Burnley’s towering presence created havoc in the Palace penalty area.
Ben Mee was allowed to tower over Cheikhou Kouyate and several other yellow shirts to plant an unsavable header past Vicente Guaita.
With Burnley sniffing out Palace’s vulnerability from set pieces, from a Dwight McNeil free-kick, Tarkowski leapt over Joachim Andersen and found an unmarked Chris Wood inside the area, who had the simple task of nodding home and giving the Clarets the lead.
Both Vieira and Benteke admitted that it’s an area of the game that the Eagles need to improve on.
FRUSTRATING SECOND 45 MINUTES
While Palace once again dominated – having the most shots, passes, touches and the majority of possession – they failed to find a way past the stubborn Burnley low-block in the second half.
Not content with the point, Vieira rolled the dice by bringing on Michael Olise, Jeffrey Schlupp and Odsonne Edouard, who had been suffering from injuries before the match, for the last five minutes.
Olise attempted to dance his way through the Burnley defence, testing Pope twice from outside the area, but, in stark contrast to the first 45, there was little attacking rhythm created by Palace to attempt to win the game.
The most significant effort came from Wilfried Zaha – who had a relatively subdued afternoon – when he crashed an effort from outside the area off the crossbar.
SEVEN UNBEATEN AND GUAITA HANDS PALACE A POINT
Pulling off a stunning save to deny Matěj Vydra with the last kick of the game, Palace had Vicente Guiata to thank for heading back to Selhurst Park with a point.
After the ball broke through to Vydra and he bypassed Andersen, he was left one-on-one with the Spanish shotstopper. Guaita got down low to his left-hand side and got a strong hand to turn the goalbound shot around the post.
The 34-year-old made six saves on Saturday.
While many would have expected the Eagles to leave with their third win on the bounce, it was always going to be an arduous afternoon against a buoyant Burnley, who had only lost to Manchester City in their last seven Premier League fixtures.
Palace are only one game away from equalling their longest unbeaten run in the top flight.
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