An already-safe Aston Villa play host to relegation scrappers Burnley on Thursday evening (8pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports). Can the Clarets go to Villa Park and get the result that they so desperately need? Or will the hosts pile on the pressure and make their visitors favourites for the drop ahead of the final weekend? Read this AVFC vs Burnley EPL match preview, with betting tips, to find out.
Aston Villa continued to finish the season like a team marooned mid-table last time out, as they huffed and puffed their way to a relatively straightforward share of the spoils at home to Crystal Palace. Thursday’s hosts are now without a win in two following their defeat to title chasers Liverpool last week, but they are unlikely to be too bothered. Regardless of what happens now, they are going to finish middle of the pack after a season that has been both promising and disappointing in equal measure.
Though it’s far from the glitz and glamour of the battle for the title or European football at the top end of the table, the Burnley boys would kill to be Villa’s position right now, as they head into their last two games of the season in a dangerous position. After losing to Tottenham at the weekend, and seeing Leeds secure a late point against Brighton, the Clarets find themselves inside the bottom three, a point from safety.
If they can get something from this fixture, even if it’s just a point, they will go ahead of their closest rivals on goal difference and will thus have taken their fate into their own hands ahead of the final day. Lose here and their destiny will be decided, at least in part, by what others do.
Modest home efforts
Villa Park hasn’t been much of a fortress in recent weeks, as the Villans have stuttered at home, delivering results that can only be described as modest. They’ve won just one of their last five in front of a home crowd, winning just two of their last ten. They’ve failed to score in two of their last five on their own patch, scoring more than once in just one of those five, while an average of 1.26 expected goals for isn’t too threatening. Such numbers should give Thursday’s visitors confidence.
Visitors struggling for goals on the road
One of the major problems for Burnley FC is their lack of goals, especially on the road. As things stand, only an already-relegated Norwich side has scored fewer travelling goals than the Clarets, who’ve notched just 15 times in 18 away matches. Such a lack of goals comes from a lack of creativity, and though their average of 0.9 expected goals per 90 minutes on the road suggests that they should’ve probably scored another goal or two, it shows that they have found it tough to create chances. In terms of travelling xG for, Burnley are the worst team in the Premier League right now.
Recent form to consider
Thanks to a rearranged fixture, we’re in the rare position of having a very recent renewal of this fixture to drawn upon. Just two weeks ago the pair met at Turf Moor, where Aston Villa won by three goals to one, scoring three goals inside 52 minutes, before the hosts finally replied through Maxwel Cornet in the 91st minute.
On that occasion, Gerrard’s men were clever, as they picked off the desperate hosts twice during a first half where they had less of the ball and less in terms of both shots on and off goal. They then went about dominating the game in terms of possession in the second half, though in terms of scoring opportunities, the result didn’t tell the full story. If we look at expected goals, Villa won marginally by 1.7 to 1.6, which tells us that Burnley probably created enough to get something out of the contest. Could they get their revenge at Villa Park?
Stick with a low-scoring game
If you’re looking for a bet ahead of this fixture, then side with a game that doesn’t produce lots of goals. Of course, we did see four goals go in when this pair met just a fortnight ago, but neither have impressed offensively since, while Burnley’s situation is likely to lend itself to a cagey affair
The visitors have struggled for goals on the road all season long, but what they can do is dig in, and after holding out for long periods against Spurs last time out, who only broke through thanks to a contentious penalty decision in first-half stoppage time, the Clarets will fancy themselves to dig deep and frustrate the hosts. They won’t want an open game as a point would be a fantastic result, so expect the visitors to get men behind the ball and look to shut up shop early doors.
The selections below are fuelled further by the fact that more than two goals have been scored in just one of Burnley’s last six travelling fixtures. Both teams have scored in just three of their last eight on the road. Both teams have scored in only two of Villa’s last seven at home, four of which saw less than three goals go in. So it is little surprise that these are the two advised tips for this AVFC vs Burnley preview with the pick of the top UK sports betting sites, at best odds:
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.