In-form Burnley will be keen to put more distance between them and the relegation zone when they take on Aston Villa on Saturday.

Burnley are on a fine run of form since parting ways with Sean Dyche and will look to secure another vital victory when they take on Aston Villa at Turf Moor.

Both teams will be facing off for the first time this season with the reverse fixture scheduled for May 20. Victories in both these games could prove priceless for the Clarets as they look to secure their Premier League status for another season.

Aston Villa, for all their hype, have underperformed and have not found their feet under Steven Gerrard. They have won just one of their last five league games and are only six points ahead of Burnley in the standings. They, however, do have a game in hand over Mike Jackson’s side.

Jackson has inspired a remarkable turnaround in form that has seen Burnley win 10 points from his first four games in charge. Avoiding defeat on Saturday will see him become the first Clarets manager to go undefeated in his first five games in charge. While records are well and good, he will be keen to see his side continue their momentum heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

While the recent run of form has seen Burnley climb out of the relegation zone, they are still very much in the fight to avoid the drop. In Villa, they face an opponent who are struggling for form and could be swept aside from the momentum the home side will bring to the table.

Gerrard’s side have little to play for and will be keen to end the season on a high. The Liverpool legend will need to get through the last five games this campaign before settling in and plotting next season’s objectives. Whether he will use these matches to test out potential new formations or tactics remains to be seen. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up and what tactics they might employ.

Burnley

Burnley looked to be down and out when they parted ways with Sean Dyche mere weeks ago. However, the decision has proven to be an inspired one as his departure appears to have breathed new life into the Clarets’ fight against relegation.

They are currently only one of three Premier League sides who are unbeaten in their last four league games – the other two being Manchester City and Liverpool. They will look to add to their points tally when they welcome a Villa side that have won as many games as bottom-placed Norwich City in their last five Premier League outings.

Steven Gerrard’s side, however, does have superior quality players and Mike Jackson would be wrong to let his guard down. Momentum can be a difference-maker but should Burnley not turn up on the day, Villa could very well condemn them to a nerve-wracking final three games, one of them at Villa Park.

Burnley have several injury concerns ahead of the game. They will be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood and Jay Rodriguez, who are all injured. Erik Pieters and Maxwel Cornet face a race against time to feature and it remains to be seen if either player will make the cut.

The home side will, in all likelihood, turn out in a 4-4-2 formation that has brought them success in recent weeks. Nick Pope is a sure starter in goal and will start behind a back four of Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski and Charlie Taylor. The centre-back duo could have their task cut out should Olie Watkins and Danny Ings turn it on.

Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill will both be tasked with holding the fort in the middle of the pitch, freeing up the wingers Aaron Lennon and Dwight McNeil to push upfield. Wout Weghorst has been a revelation for Burnley since joining the club and will start alongside Matej Vydra upfront.

The Dutchman is Burnley’s biggest goal threat and how well Villa can keep him shackled could make the difference. With Tyrone Mings also struggling for form, it could prove to be an interesting matchup.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pope; Roberts, Collins, Tarkowski, Taylor; McNeil, Brownhill, Cork, Lennon; Weghorst, Vydra

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa have invested generously in the last two transfer windows, but they have been unable to convert that promise into a consistent run of form. In fact, Gerrard’s men have won the same number of matches as Norwich over the last five gameweeks. Despite the atrocious run of form, they still stand a chance of breaking into the top half should they win their remaining games.

With Burnley and Villa set to lock horns twice over the next fortnight, how the first game goes could build momentum going into the return fixture at Villa Park. The six points on offer could be season-defining for both sides should other results go their way.

The 2-0 win over Norwich last time around arrested Villa’s slide to an extent and they will now be keen to push on. They will, however, have to do so without the likes of Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Kortney Hause who are all out injured. Jacob Ramsey is also a doubt for the game and it remains to be seen if he will make the cut.

Steven Gerrard is likely to set his side up in a 4-3-1-2 formation. Emiliano Martinez will start in goal behind a flat back four of Ashley Young, Tyrone Mings, Calum Chambers and Matty Cash.

Morgan Sanson and John McGinn alongside Douglas Luiz and will provide Villa with the energy in midfield. The trio turning up will afford Philippe Coutinho the licence to exhibit his silky skills far upfield. The Brazilian has failed to build on the impressive start to his loan spell and there is no better time than now for him to rediscover his best.

Coutinho coming back to life will make matters easier for Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins upfront. The duo will find opportunities easier to come by and could enjoy a fruitful outing in front of the goal should that be the case.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Sanson; Coutinho; Ings, Watkins

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Key Stats

  • Ast0n Villa have a poor record away to Burnley, winning just one of the last 26 trips to the Clarets.
  • Both teams have won two games apiece against each other in the Premier League. Of their eight meetings in the top flight, four of them have ended in a draw.
  • A win for Burnley will see them win four Premier League games for the first time since 2018.
  • Burnley have scored just 31 goals all season in the league, a tally that trumps only last-placed Norwich City.
  • Both Burnley and Aston Villa have conceded 46 goals in the Premier League this season.

Player to Watch

Philippe Coutinho

Set to return to the Premier League? (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Coutinho to be the difference-maker? (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Upon joining Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona in January, the Brazilian enjoyed a spectacular return to the Premier League with a smart cameo against Manchester United. He has, however, failed to push on and has stagnated of late.

Coutinho appears to be a shadow of the player who lit up the Premier League at Liverpool, and at 29, there is no time better than now for him to re-establish his credentials as a top-class player. Easily the best player on the pitch when on his groove, the Brazilian could craft opportunities on a plate for Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins.

Coutinho also has much to play for in a personal sense. With his Barcelona career looking likely to end, the remaining five games could act as an audition of sorts for interested parties. Should he turn on the heat, Burnley could find it very difficult to shackle him.

Prediction

Burnley 1-1 Aston Villa

Burnley will want a victory more and have more to lose on the day. However, Aston Villa should have enough quality in the ranks and will be upbeat following the win against Norwich last time around. A scoring draw appears to be the most likely outcome on Saturday.

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