Villa Players “Fighting for their Places” Warns Sherwood of Dead Rubber Game

Aston Villa vs Burnley Match Preview

Despite the embarrassment of a 6-1 loss, Villa are safe and can now look forward to the FA Cup Final. Still, the thrashing at St Mary’s will have given Sherwood a lot to think about. With little riding on Sunday’s game against already relegated Burnley, it could be a chance for the gaffer to experiment with his lineup, although Burnley should not be under-estimated…

Villa have taken seven points from the last three home games

Sherwood on Premier League survival

“We’re relieved. It was disappointing to lose the way we did at Southampton to say the least. I’d have taken a 10-0 bashing at Southampton if we were safe. We can be proud that we’ve stayed in the division.

“Now we must build over the summer and make sure that we’re stronger next season. I’m looking forward to getting to know the players in an un-pressured situation during pre-season. Unfortunately this season we’ve had a lot of injuries in the defence. We got the job done.

“We want to go out with a win. We owe it to our fans who have stuck by us and helped us over the line. We want to send them home happy. It’s a full house. We want to give a good performance.

“We’ll only be celebrating if we win the FA Cup. They’re all fighting for their places. Nobody’s place is safe. It’s all up for grabs.”

Benteke on Villa

“Although we lost heavily at Southampton, it won’t affect us. If you look at our games since the manager came in, we’ve had one bad performance against Southampton.

“Otherwise the performances have been good. The confidence of the team is still high.

“We look forward to playing our last game at home against Burnley to finish well with three points and then a good performance to prepare us for Arsenal.”

Dyche on team performance (after the draw at Stoke)

“I am really proud of the players because it was a big knock [relegation].

“It’s a lot to take in, but to come out of that, make sense of it and deliver that performance, I am very pleased with my players for that.

“The tactical side of the game has been pretty solid throughout the season. No matter what shape we have come across or what the opposition have offered we have taken every game on, home and away.”

Memory Match

21st Feb 2010 Aston Villa 5 Burnley 2

Young, Downing, Heskey and Agbonlahor took part in the rout during the last and only time Burnley played at Villa Park in the Premier League.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1

Burnley – Last five matches away: W 1, L 4

Burnley have not won a top-flight league match at Villa Park since April 1967

One to Watch

Danny Ings – Having scored during Burnley’s last away victory, the striker will be keen to impress future suitors as his departure looks likely.



Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Despite their relegation, Burnley are still playing for pride. Just look at QPR last weekend – their relegation didn’t stop them picking up a win against Newcastle.

Burnley’s struggles have been well documented but they are unbeaten in two matches and kept clean sheets in both, earning Tom Heaton an England call-up.

Their goalscoring woes are reminiscent of Lambert-era Villa, but they have been stubborn in defence. In their last seven games, Burnley haven’t conceded more than one goal in any of those occasions.

If last weekend’s Southampton horror show wasn’t enough of a reminder that Villa can be prone to the odd defensive lapse, the stats are intriguing. Under Sherwood, Villa have conceded 22 goals in 12 league games under the ex-Spurs boss. Guess how many Paul Lambert’s Villa conceded in his first 12 league games? Yep, 22!

Heading back towards the Championship, if Burnley lose again they will have recorded the same amount of points as they did last time they were in the Premier League – 30. A last Premier League game at Villa Park does at least give them a chance to better their previous tally.

“We’ll only be celebrating if we win the FA Cup.” – Sherwood

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

Sherwood, to his credit, has managed to clear out some rubbish Villa records but our 31 league goals this season is our lowest ever (as it stands) after the 1969-70 season, when we scored 36.

Whether or not we might have left it too late to erase this stat, it would still be nice to see lots of Villa goals, particularly given all of our home wins this season have been by a one goal margin. (Interestingly, Burnley’s six league wins this season have, similarly, all been by the odd goal!)

Sherwood has hinted that he won’t rest senior players but that doesn’t mean others won’t be given a chance. Rumours of the inclusion of 17-year-old Andre Green in the squad are further proof that Sherwood is more than willing to give all of his players a chance and it would be nice to see some different players involved.

Last weekend’s match against a Europe-chasing Southampton was a blip under Sherwood, and the capitulation was more like performances much earlier in the season.

Hopefully we also do better defensively and match the defensive performances of a true footballing God, Paul McGrath, who fans are dedicating this season’s final league game to!

If Burnley lose again they will have recorded the same amount of points as they did last time they were in the Premier League – 30

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

As Burnley face another relegation (their 11th in league history, in fact) they do perhaps provide an opportunity for Villa to end the league campaign on a high, especially considering Burnley haven’t won a top-flight match at Villa Park since the 1960’s.

It was feared earlier on in the season that this final day match would be season-defining but thankfully we secured safety one week earlier!

One of the things Sherwood has improved has been performances at Villa Park. Apart from narrow losses to Stoke and Swansea at home things have looked a lot better in B6, and Villa have taken seven points from the last three home games.

The loss at Southampton was certainly in contrast to recent Villa efforts but it has at least provided a warning against complacency.

With FA Cup Final places potentially at stake, lets hope we round off a difficult season with a showing that hints at a brighter future – and of course a cup win!


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