Big game tonight, match facts from the BBC and creating an opportunity

A win this evening could see us move from eleventh place to seventh with two games in hand on the League leaders Liverpool. If we were to win our two games in hand, we'd go second, two points ahead of the team in third.

Tonight isn't about going second, it's about creating the opportunity that means it is possible. That is why tonight is a big game.


The football season is hard and I wrote recently about needing the team to be playing as a team and having that one player stand out. You need that for 38 games to win every game and that never happens. It is games like this one today that you can look back on and say it was an important result in the season, if you're to be successful.

I'm not trying to create any pressure or to use this as a post to look back and say I told you so. I'm writing it because if we win tonight and if we were to win on Sunday, it gives us a reason to feel optimistic. It will also demonstrate that something special could be happening.

Belief is important, but you never look back at the entire season. You'll look to matches and performances. All of us work, but we don't look back at years and think fondly of them. We often look back at telephone calls or moments. Tonight could be a moment we look back on because the match tonight could be something we look back on as proof that we can do it when we need to.

No, I've not been drinking. But I feel optimistic.

Match facts from the BBC

Head-to-head

  • Aston Villa can earn consecutive league wins against Burnley for the first time since November 1964, following their 2-1 victory at Turf Moor in January.
  • Burnley's only win in the past eight league meetings came at Villa Park in May 2015, although five matches have been drawn.

Aston Villa

  • Villa are in danger of losing four consecutive Premier League home matches for the first time since April 2016, when they endured six defeats in a row.
  • Victory on Thursday would give them 21 points, their highest tally after 11 games of a Premier League season since 2001-02.
  • They can win seven of their opening 11 matches in a Premier League season for the second time, emulating 1998-99.
  • Aston Villa have scored 21 goals this season, their most after 10 top-flight fixtures since 1976-77.
  • Their only victory in Premier League matches played on a Thursday was 1-0 at home against Norwich City on Boxing Day last year.

Burnley

  • Burnley have earned eight points from their past five matches, only losing once.
  • The Clarets could lose seven of their opening 12 Premier League matches in a season for the second time, after 2018-19.
  • Sean Dyche's side have won six top-flight away matches in 2020 - they last fared better in a calendar year in 1965, when they earned eight victories.
  • The Clarets have kept three clean sheets in five league games since captain Ben Mee returned from injury.
  • Their only win in 15 top-flight away matches on a Thursday came in April 1961 against Birmingham City.
  • Chris Wood has scored in all three of his league starts against Aston Villa, for Leeds in December 2016 and in both games for Burnley last season.
  • Phil Bardsley, Matthew Lowton and Ashley Westwood have all played in the Premier League for Aston Villa.