Hands up who expected Crystal Palace and Burnley to be clear of the relegation zone at this stage of the season. In all honesty, we believed that they would be amongst the strugglers near the foot of the Premier League table and whilst they are by no means out of danger, we would be very surprised were they to find themselves dragged into the mix.
Sunderland are doomed. Middlesbrough aren’t much better. Hull City and Swansea City will fight it out until the end of the season to avoid the third relegation spot, however the Clarets and the Eagles will likely enjoy the spectacle from a relatively safe distance.
That said, neither side can afford to become too complacent and with four games left to play, there could still be a few surprises in store. Crystal Palace are enjoying a healthier position than Burnley as things stand, the appointment of Sam Allardyce as manager having the desired effect of lifting the Eagles up the table. Indeed Palace have been enjoying some pretty remarkable results of late, by anyone’s standards. A 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a massive surprise, as was a 3-0 demolition of Arsenal just nine days later. Throw in a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield and it’s effectively job done as far as Allardyce’s remit of keeping the side in the Premier League is concerned.
The Eagles head into this match on the back of a 1-0 defeat to title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur although that result was hardly a shock. Allardyce’s men should have little difficulty in bouncing back from this disappointment when they face Burnley on Saturday evening. The Clarets enjoy a five-point cushion between themselves and the bottom three in the Premier League and this could well be enough to ensure their survival in the top-flight, however they cannot yet breathe easily and given that Burnley have yet to taste victory on their travels this season, we’re not confident of their chances of managing anything for their efforts this weekend, not even a consolation goal.