The Premier League season continues with Aston Villa’s trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley on Sunday.
Unai Emery’s men have had a fine week, as a 4-0 thrashing of Sean Dyche’s Everton at Villa Park on Sunday was followed by an even bigger margin of victory against Hibernian in the first leg of the Europa Conference League playoff round.
The Villans racked up a 5-0 scoreline in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening to effectively seal their passage through to the group stage.
Two big wins in the space of a few days is just what the doctor ordered for Villa, after a 5-1 loss to Newcastle United on opening night was compounded by long-term injuries to Emiliano Buendia and defensive colossus, Tyrone Mings.
Emery’s troops should travel to the North West in good spirits, and Ollie Watkins in particular will be raring to go after the striker bagged a hat-trick at Easter Road.
Watkins will fancy his chances of scoring at Turf Moor for the third season running given the numbers that he has posted since Emery arrived last November.
Leon Bailey also looks to have found his mojo after benefitting from the arrival of his former Bayer Leverkusen teammate, Moussa Diaby.
The Jamaican has been afforded much more space than previously due to Diaby’s occupying of defenders, and has provided two goals and an assist in Villa’s last two outings.
Bailey will be keen to improve his output away from home though, with the goal against Hibs being his first away goal for the Birmingham outfit and Sunday gives him the chance to refine his form on the road against non big six opposition.
The Villans will be confident of recording their third successive win in all competions, given that they have only lost one of the last six encounters against their fellow Claret and Blues and triumphed 3-1 on their most recent visit to Lancashire in April 2022.
Vincent Kompany’s Burnley will be out to put on a show in front of their own fans on Sunday, having lost only once on their own patch as they stormed to the Championship title last term.
The Clarets have had to wait two weeks to play again following their opening day defeat to Manchester City, as their scheduled trip to Luton Town last weekend was postponed due to Kenilworth Road being redeveloped.
Burnley’s time out of action means that they will be fresh to face Villa and will be eager to register their first victory of the campaign and get their season up and running.
Should the hosts continue their attacking, front-footed approach from last term, then they may play into Villa’s hands as this style could leave space for the visitors’ many attacking options to exploit.
It is early days, but a win at Turf Moor could lift Villa into the top four of the embryonic Premier League table. Three points for the hosts will lift them out of the bottom three and give them a platform to build upon back in the top flight.
Villa could hand a debut to new signing Nicolo Zaniolo at Turf Moor after he was ineligible against Hibs in midweek. The Italian may be introduced from the bench, however, given the form of Villa’s forward line.
Emiliano Martinez was withdrawn at half-time on Wednesday with a knock, but he should be fine to face Burnley.
Phillipe Coutinho is out with a minor injury, whilst Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey remain unavailable alongside the long-term absentees Buendia and Mings.
Matty Cash may return to the starting lineup at right-back, with Ezri Konsa replacing Diego Carlos at centre-back.
As for Burnley, one of the stars of their promotion campaign, Anass Zaroury, is serving the first of a three match suspension after getting a straight-red card against Manchester City.
Vincent Kompany otherwise has a full-strength squad to choose from, so the Clarets will lineup in their usual, fluid 5-4-1 shape.
Summer signing Sander Berge will support captain Josh Cullen in the holding midfield roles.
Jacob Bruun Larsen could make his first start for Burnley in place of Luca Koleosho, whilst Zeki Amdouni should start in place of Zaroury.
Trafford; Vitinho, Beyer, Al-Dakhil, O’Shea, Roberts; Cullen, Berge, Foster, Bruun Larsen; Amdouni
Aston Villa (4-2-2-2)
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne; Kamara, Luiz; Bailey, McGinn; Diaby, Watkins
An exciting and open game should be in store on Sunday as both teams favour front-footed tactics.
Villa have more proven Premier League quality in their team, however, and will be buoyed by recent results, so Unai Emery’s men will be confident of recording their third straight win here.
Prediction: Burnley 0 Aston Villa 2