Having put more than one goal on the scoreboard for the first time since March, Aston Villa dispatched former manager Dean Smith’s Norwich City to the tune of 2-0. The second consecutive positive result, with the prior being a 0-0 draw at Leicester City in which should bolster moods going into the weekend. Burnley have also enjoyed a turnaround as of late under caretaker manager Michael Jackson, undoubtedly a concern, and this feels like a match that’s going to be more trouble than it should be. The Clarets are 4-1-1 over the last six matches and 3-0 over the last three, with wins over Southampton (2-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0), and a thrilling comeback victory over Watford (2-1). Players to look out for include central midfielders Josh Brownhill and Jack Cork, striker Matej Vydra, and Dwight McNeil at right midfield.
FLASHBACK: Plenty of missed opportunities for Aston Villa and some spectacular acrobatics from Nick Pope gave Burnley plenty of hope during last year’s fixture at Turf Moor, with the Clarets coming from behind to secure a 3-2 victory at home.
There are certain to be changes to the Villa lineup this weekend, with Leon Bailey, Kortney Hause and, more importantly, Jacob Ramsey likely out for Saturday. In goal, we’ll see the familiar Emi Martinez, with Tyrone Mings and Calum Chambers partnering at center-back. Lucas Digne should be back at left-back and Matty Cash will start on the right. In the midfield, we’ll almost certainly see John McGinn and Douglas Luiz, but it’s not all that certain as to what Luiz’s responsibilities may be. Tim Iroegbunam started in the number six position last week and it would be interesting to see him start again, with Luiz playing more of a box to box role. Marvelous Nakamba is available as well, but expected to be a reserve. The ever mysterious Frenchman, Morgan Sanson, is also back and training with the team. Up front it’s a question of one or two strikers, and that’s going to boil down to playing Emi Buendia or Danny Ings. It’s a tough call, but I think Gerrard goes with a diamond shape featuring Philippe Coutinho in the number 10 position while Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings partner up top.
PREDICTION: Villa are playing well again, and with two positive results in a row there’s no reason to think things won’t continue to be on the glass half full side of things. Be that as it may, Burnley are also playing very well within context and they look to be tough customers. A hard fought 1-1 draw away from home looks to be on the cards.