High-flying Aston Villa return to Premier League action after an impressive European midweek as they head to Turf Moor to take on newly-promoted Burnley on Saturday.
Vincent Kompany was the mastermind behind Burnley’s swift top-flight return last season, with the Clarets cruising to a top-table Championship finish, becoming the fourth side in second-tier history to hit a 100-point landmark.
However, Burnley’s fairytale crumbled on the Belgian’s touchline debut in the Premier League as defending champions Manchester City humbled the Lancashire outfit 3-0 on the opening weekend.
Kompany’s side hoped to bounce back last weekend, but their proposed trip to fellow top-flight newcomers Luton Town was postponed due to ongoing work to bring Kenilworth Road up to Premier League standard.
An extra rest period could be just what the doctor ordered for the home team ahead of the upcoming visit of a free-scoring Villa side.
We backed Unai Emery’s side to fight for the European spots in our Aston Villa season preview, but their recent showings suggest an unlikely top-four battle could be on the cards.
Villa recovered from a dismal 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United in round one with an eye-catching 4-0 demolition of Everton last weekend before putting five unanswered goals past Hibernian in midweek Europa Conference League action.
Ollie Watkins’ hat-trick at Easter Road helped the Lions put one foot in the competition’s group stage, rendering the second qualifying leg at Villa Park a mere formality.
As predicted in our Burnely season preview, Kompany’s side could be facing a season-long fight against the drop, with an emphasis on Turf Moor as their safe haven.
With five of the Clarets’ six opening Premier League matches coming against teams finishing in the top eight last term, they’ll probably hope to get some points on the board on home soil.
However, Burnley’s last top-flight campaign saw them go winless in their opening nine league games, losing crucial ground on safety in the early stages of their fateful 2021/22 season.
Since they’ve only won once in their five Premier League home encounters against Villa in the 21st century (D2, L2), the Clarets could be staring down the barrel of another sluggish start in the elite division.
After rubber stamping European group stage football in Edinburgh, Villa can turn their undivided attention to arresting an underwhelming five-match winless run in Premier League away games (D3, L2).
Emery knows a thing or two about beating Burnley, having won all three previous managerial encounters against the Clarets despite conceding precisely once on each occasion.
The Spaniard will be confident about extending his perfect record against the Turf Moor side following his team’s recent showings, looking to cement his status among the Birmingham faithful.
Emery boasts a 57% win ratio in charge of the Lions, more than any previous permanent manager in the club’s history, even though his last league victory outside Villa Park dates back to early April.
Barring Irish forward Michael Obafemi, who’s still out with a thigh injury, Burnley will enter this round with their entire first-team squad fit and ready.
Villa cannot call upon the services of Tyrone Mings, Jacob Ramsey, Kortney House, Leander Dendoncker, Philippe Coutinho and Emiliano Buendia.
Burnley potential starting line-up:
(5-4-1): James Trafford; Vitinho, Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Connor Roberts; Sander Berge, Josh Cullen, Lyle Foster, Jacob Bruun Larsen; Zeki Amdouni.
Aston Villa potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Emiliano Martinez; Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Pau Torres, Lucas Digne; Boubacar Kamara, Youri Tielemans; Moussa Diaby, John McGinn, Leon Bailey; Ollie Watkins.
We Say: Burnley 0-2 Aston Villa
Playing in front of a hostile Turf Moor crowd is never a pleasant experience, but we expect Villa to ease past Burnley.
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