Burnley’s fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League continues on Thursday night, as Aston Villa play host to the Clarets at Villa Park.
The hosts were pegged back in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last time out, while Mike Jackson’s survival task was made all the more difficult with a 1-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.
Some may argue that Steven Gerrard has performed below expectations since arriving at Villa Park, with the Lions embarking on a spending spree but competing in the lower echelons of the table during an underwhelming 2022.
After trying and failing to hold onto their one-goal lead versus Liverpool, lightning struck twice for Villa during the visit of Crystal Palace, as Ollie Watkins prodded home the opener before Jeffrey Schlupp was allowed to drift into space and tap home in the 81st minute to restore parity for the Eagles.
With only two wins from their last nine Premier League games to shout about, Gerrard’s side find themselves languishing in 14th in the table at the time of writing but only four points behind Leicester City, so a top-half finish is not entirely out of the question just yet.
Facing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium could hardly represent a more challenging way to end the season, where Gerrard may have to steer his side to the unlikeliest of results if he is to ensure that Liverpool will remain in the title conversation until the last knockings.
Aston Villa can take solace in the fact that they have overcome both Chelsea and Arsenal in their final home games of the season over the past two years, but Gerrard’s side have only won twice at home in 2022 and ought to be prepared for a true battle in physicality this week.
Tempers boiled over in the tunnel as Burnley’s resistance was undone by a controversial penalty call at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Ashley Barnes’s outstretched arm handed Harry Kane the opportunity to power home from 12 yards deep into first-half stoppage time.
Barnes himself went close to equalising for Burnley with a rocket of a strike that cannoned back off the post, but it was ultimately a fruitless endeavour for the Clarets, who still have their fate in their own hands with two games left to go.
Jackson’s side will begin Thursday down in the relegation zone but will rise above Leeds United with a point at Villa Park, while a victory could also see Everton there for the taking if the Toffees fail to get the better of Crystal Palace at the same time.
With a rampageous Newcastle United visiting Turf Moor on the final day of the season, gleaning a positive result from Villa Park is of paramount importance to the Clarets, but they have only won twice away from home in the top flight all season long.
However, it has only been a week and a half since Aston Villa ran out 3-1 winners over Burnley at Turf Moor, but the Clarets have gone without defeat in their last three league games at Villa Park and must channel the spirits of teams gone by to keep their heads above water in the relegation dogfight.
Aston Villa Premier League form:
Burnley Premier League form:
We say: Aston Villa 0-0 Burnley
A draw would be enough for Burnley to demote Leeds to 18th place heading into the final day, so the temptation to set up in a similar way to the Spurs clash and try to play for a draw will be very real for Jackson and co.
Weghorst in particular should have a glint in his eyes as Villa work around Konsa’s absence, but Gerrard’s side have already claimed one win over Burnley this month and will not expect to suffer a significant reverse in fortunes in spite of their struggles for victories at Villa Park, so we can envisage this battle ending without a single goal.