Two of the most out-of-form teams in the Premier League come into conflict when Burnley host Aston Villa at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day (7.30am ET Wednesday).
Burnley have picked up six points from their last six league fixtures, the sixth-worst record in the division. They have the second worst goal difference over that time. Aston Villa have taken just three points from their last six and are the one team with a worse goal difference than Burnley.
Neither squad enjoyed a strong end to the calendar year but the way in which their meagre points hauls were distributed tallies nicely with their current standings in the table. Burnley are in a relatively comfortable 13th, six points clear of the relegation zone, while Villa occupy the last of the three relegations spots in 18th.
At both a top-line and underlying level, Burnley’s results and performances have been good enough this season to think it improbable that they will be pulled down into a relegation battle. While a repeat of their superb seventh-place finish in 2017-18 is unlikely, they are on course to better the 40-point tallies that kept them up both last season and in 2016-17.
Among all of the Premier League’s ever-present teams in the three and a half seasons since Burnley’s promotion back to the top flight in 2016-17, none have spent less on transfers than Burnley in absolute terms. Only Southampton have laid out less on a net basis. Despite that handicap, Sean Dyche continues to craft solid sides capable of avoiding the drop zone.
Burnley have been unable to compete in their matches against sides towards the top of the table so far this season. Saturday’s 0-2 defeat at home to Manchester United was their ninth defeat in 11 matches against the current top 10. They have proved adept in seeing off teams around and below them in the table. In nine matches against teams presently in the bottom half, Dyche’s side have recorded six wins, two draws and just a single defeat.
It is also interesting to note that all seven of Burnley’s wins this season have been achieved whilst keeping a clean sheet. They are not a particularly potent attacking force: Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood have again been their only real goal threats but they are more than decent defensively.
The same certainly cannot be said for their visitors on New Year’s Day. Only two teams have conceded more than Aston Villa’s 36 goals against to date. None have such ugly looking underlying numbers in that respect. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat away to fellow relegation battlers Watford was the seventh time in their last eight league fixtures that Villa have conceded twice or more.
Dean Smith is a coach who generally seems to favor an open and attacking approach, but while his side are scoring a fair number of goals, they simply aren’t scoring often enough to make up for their laxity at the back. The only two wins in their last 10 league fixtures came in conjunction with clean sheets. Throughout the campaign to date, they have only taken two points from the 13 matches in which they have conceded twice or more.
Smith cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines of Villa’s defeat away at Watford and was critical of his side in his post-match press conference. The circumstances for this season were never perhaps ideal. Promotion from the Championship through the playoffs was followed by a mad and expensive scramble to put together a squad capable of competing in the top flight. Having spent that money, the board would reasonably expect survival.
In that respect, the trend doesn’t look good. Only Norwich have picked up less than Villa’s seven points over their last 10 fixtures. Watford’s recent uptick has converted Villa into the second favorites for relegation at the websites of the big American offshore bookmakers.
Our Preview’s Burnley vs Aston Villa Predictions & Betting Picks Advice
Smith and his side could really do with three points to start the new year, but it is Burnley who are fancied to come away with the win. The two teams drew 2-2 when they met at Villa Park at the end of the September but Burnley can be expected to shut Villa out on this occasion and then get the goal necessary to claim victory. So the Burnley vs Aston Villa prediction and EPL tip is:
- Bet on Burnley to win to nil @ +235 with Bovada Sportsbook. To do this, go to their “Match Result and Both Teams to Score” betting market and choose “Burnley Win And No”.