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Last week West Ham were the visitors to Turf Moor and continuing the claret and blue theme we travel to Villa Park tomorrow to face an Aston Villa side who have just moved into the top half of the table.

I was hoping I’d be writing this preview with a win against Watford behind us; I was dreading writing it should we have lost that game but having gone almost twelve years without having a home game called off it became the second home postponement in just over two weeks.

The good news is that both Newcastle and Norwich were beaten. Leeds conceded seven at Manchester City on Tuesday and I thought Newcastle were in for a similar hammering last night at Anfield given how the first half went. They still lost 3-1 while an inept looking Norwich were beaten by tomorrow’s opponents Aston Villa.

It means we go there still one point ahead of the bottom two but now with two games in hand and still with just Watford within striking distance. With several Premier League games already postponed this weekend it does give us an opportunity to move closer to some of those closest to us but it will need us to record a first away win of the season.

Tomorrow we should have two former Villa players in our team. We signed Matt Lowton from Villa in the summer of 2015 and a season and a half later returned to sign Ashley Westwood, two players who have been mainstays of the team in recent years.

Westwood has played 148 times for us in the Premier League; Lowton can go one better than that leaving him expected to make his 150th Premier League appearance for Burnley at his former club. He will join Ben Mee, Ashley Barnes and James Tarkowski in reaching that total.

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Lowton said yesterday: “Villa was the club that gave me a chance in the Premier League, so I’ll be forever grateful for that. I enjoyed every minute of my time there. It didn’t quite work out in the end, but I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the club.”

Looking forward to his return, he said: “It’ll be a tough game but we’re going there looking for three points and hopefully get out of the drop zone and kick on from there.”

With potentially losing a player through COVID, it’s difficult to even second guess a line up for tomorrow but I’m not expecting a return for Maxwel Cornet. Dale Stephens is likely to be in the squad having ended his isolation but there’s not been any real news regarding Connor Roberts who is recovering from illness.

The team last week against West Ham was: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood. Subs: Wayne Hennessey, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Erik Pieters, Josh Brownhill, Aaron Lennon, Matěj Vydra.

Aston Villa’s season didn’t go to plan. I’m not sure anyone expected they’d be sacking manager Dean Smith but that’s exactly what they did early last month after suffering five successive defeats, the last of which was at Southampton. They’d dropped to sixteenth in the table with just ten points from eleven games, above Watford on goal difference and just two points ahead of us.

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With Steven Gerrard at the helm, they’ve beaten Brighton and Leicester at home and recorded victories at Crystal Palace and Norwich. That Norwich win came on Tuesday this week and saw a second substitute appearance for Danny Ings on his return from injury.

Ings fit, but Gerrard confirmed that all of Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson, Anwar El Ghazi, Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traoré and Marvelous Nakamba are out with injuries while Ashley Young (pictured above), so close to joining Burnley last summer, is rated as 50/50.

The Villa team at Norwich was: Emiliano Martínez, Matty Cash, Ezra Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett, John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey, Emiliano Buendía, Ollie Watkins, Ashley Young. Subs: Filip Marschall, Axel Tuanzebe, Trézéguet, Kortney Hause, Danny Ings, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka, Cameron Archer, Tim Iroegbunam.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Last season’s game at Villa was played on 17th December, one day earlier than this season’s fixture although, due to the late start, it was just our twelfth game of the season.

After a wretched start, a 1-0 win at Arsenal four days earlier had lifted us out of the bottom three and although we kept another clean sheet, our fifth of the season, we weren’t able to find the net either and had to settle for a point from a 0-0 draw.

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The first half was fairly even although Villa did twice hit the woodwork but it was Villa who always looked the more likely after the break and we had a lot of defending to do. Thankfully, we did it well and when they did get through they found our England goalkeeper in England form.

A 0-0 draw it was, our second successive draw at Villa Park following the 2-2 result in 2019/20.

The teams were;

Aston Villa: Emiliano Martínez, Ahmed Elmohamady, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett, John McGinn, Anwar El Ghazi, Marvelous Nakamba, Bertrand Traoré (Keinan Davis 80), Ollie Watkins, Jack Grealish. Subs not used: Jed Steer, Frédéric Guilbert, Björn Engels, Neil Taylor, Jacob Ramsey, Conor Hourihane.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Robbie Brady (Erik Pieters 90+1), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood (Matěj Vydra 82), Jay Rodriguez (Ashley Barnes 65). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Josh Benson.

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