Aston Villa-Burnley Preview

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·3 min read
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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is a firm believer that his side can "do something special" this season, but only if their focus does not slip.

Villa, whose squad have endured a difficult few weeks due to a coronavirus outbreak, lost 2-0 at Manchester City last week but bounced back by defeating Newcastle United with one of their Premier League games in hand.

Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore netted in the win at Villa Park, and Villa's next opponents are Burnley, who followed up their dramatic win at Anfield with a 3-0 demolition of Fulham in the FA Cup.

"I'm really pleased with the effort and the team spirit we have got," said Smith, whose side are within touching distance of the Champions League places.

"If you have the attitudes of the young men we have got then we can do something special. But we have to keep working hard and keep taking it game by game."

Sean Dyche, meanwhile, is still looking to add to Burnley's squad if possible. The Clarets are 15th, seven points clear of the bottom three, though their manager will not be too concerned if he is unable to make some late moves in the January window.

"We are pretty well covered," said Dyche. "The concept that most managers, in a perfect world, would be to have two players for every position.

"We certainly try and look for that, we are very competitive but then you have that layer behind that which is the young players coming through.

"If we can add the right players at the right time, of the right quality level then that's a different thing, because they've got to be players that you think can quickly build in and deliver or deliver immediately."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Burnley - Nick Pope

Pope was at his best in Burnley's 1-0 win over Liverpool, with the England international pulling off six saves, and he may well have to be in similar form to keep out Villa's attackers on Wednesday.

Aston Villa - Ollie Watkins

It had not been for a lack of trying, and he had certainly not had much luck with marginal offside decisions, but Watkins had gone eight league games without a goal until he headed in Villa's opener against Newcastle, and he will now be looking to string together a scoring streak.

KEY OPTA FACTS

•Burnley have won just one of their seven Premier League meetings with Villa (D4 L2), a 1-0 away win in May 2015 when the Clarets had already been relegated.

•Villa's last away top-flight clean sheet against Burnley was 101 years ago in January 1920 in a goalless draw, failing to record a shutout in any of their 33 subsequent visits since; the Villa goalkeeper in 1920's 0-0 draw was Sam Hardy, capped 21 times by England.

•Burnley's first ever Premier League victory came in their first Wednesday game in the competition, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Turf Moor in August 2009. Since then, they have drawn three and lost three of their six home Premier League games played on Wednesdays.

•No side has scored fewer home goals in the Premier League this season than Burnley (5), with Chris Wood the only player to net more than once at Turf Moor for the Clarets this term (2).

•In 16 away starts, Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez has kept eight clean sheets in the Premier League. Of all keepers to have started at least 10 games on the road in the competition, the Argentine has the best clean sheet ratio (50 percent).