Burnley (1), Aston Villa (3) – Villa Make an Important Step in Outclassing Burnley

Sunday, August 27

Villa’s second Premier League visit to an away stadium proved a lot more productive than their first, the disaster at St. James Park.  This time they gathered all three points and suffered no player injuries, though the team bus did suffer a projectile (brick) assault on the team bus.

Of course, newly promoted Burnley City are class below Newcastle but they are managed by Vincent Kompany and showed the stamp that he has already applied to his willing acolytes.  On this showing, this Burnley aggregation will adapt better than their fellow travelers from the Championship League (Sheffield United and Luton).

Despite going behind, the Clarets bounced back at the beginning of the second half to put the ball in Villa’s net and were ready to make a real game of it, before another dose of Villa magic put an end to that.  It felt that Villa found this success to be a challenge, and the statistics supported that.  Burnley had more possession (57% vs 43%), their pass accuracy was higher (89% vs 83%), and they conjured up nine shots (only two were on target) but were clinical enough to make one count.

So, what happened?  Before kickoff there was one surprise and one disappointment.  The surprise was that Unai Emery decided this game was where he would go with a 3-5-2 configuration. Presumably, this was to maximize Villa’s ability to penetrate a well-organized defense by having two attack-minded wingbacks.  Presumably, the master tactician had concluded that Konsa, Carlos, and Torres should be able to keep Kompany’s young strikers at bay.  The disappointment was that Martinez was deemed not fit enough to play and Robin Olsen would be between the sticks.  Missing Martinez made the formation change somewhat of a surprise as most fans would have preferred the extra defender on the backline, but that’s why we are fans and not making this decision.

As eventual hero, Matty Cash, said in his postgame interview, “the boss tells you what’s going to happen, and it does!”  This belief came into play in the 8th minute.  Burnley’s Amdouni’s effort to dribble through a well-organized Villa defence resulted in the ball being stolen and fed to John McGinn who did a “give and go” with Ollie Watkins at the halfway line who then raced the defenders for goal.  Naturally, Ollie was going to win that race – he almost always does.  What was also evident was that Matty Cash seized on the opportunity on the right wing racing the 50 yards as fast as his legs would carry him.

When Ollie had the ball run a little too far ahead of him, the goalkeeper was able to advance and take the shot opportunity away.  Ollie had no other choice than to run to young James Trafford’s right and scoop a pass across the face of the open net.  Burnley’s Delcroix was there but Cash was more determined and knew he only needed to make contact.  Matty slid into the 6-yard box, just inside the back post and directed the ball into the back of the net.  What a way to celebrate his 100th Premier League appearance.  Burnley 0, Aston Villa 1.

Not long after, Matty got to show that his goalscoring ability was not a fluke.  After a patient Villa sequence of passes (19 in total), the ball finally reached our strikers.  Ollie immediately passed off to Cash cutting in from the right wing and dragging the fullback with him.  Moussa Diaby immediately raced to the space Matty had created and Cash slid the ball for the French international to collect and carry.  Within a few strides Diaby was clear of his marker and able to pull-back to the marauding wing-back.

Matty was shooting before the ball, bouncing, arrived and it was on the way into the back of the net before poor Trafford could think, let alone react.  Burnley 0, Aston Villa 2. 

Now feeling triumphant,our Villans almost added to the lead when Ollie Watkins found himself in space with only Trafford to beat but the goalie reacted well and blocked from point-blank range.

The failed opportunity to seal the deal in the first half, came to mind when Burnley opened brightly after the break.  Guðmundsson, who came on for Benson, rose above Digne for a cross and found Foster well-marshalled by Torres but the South-African did well to spin and volley on the turn.  Torres was muscled back, and Olsen was unable to reach the powerfully struck shot.  Burnley were back in the game, Burnley 1, Aston Villa 2.

While Burnley fans erupted, our Villans appeared to handle the host’s resurgence well and Cash almost achieved a hat-trick with a pile-driver that looked headed to the top righthand corner only for it to sail a little off target.  Then McGinn, once again, showed his leadership.  He received a pass at the halfway line from Torres and waited for Al-Dakhil to pressure him, then spun around to shed the defender.  The desperate Al-Dakhil grabbed McGinn’s shirt but our Scottish international was focused on Lucas Digne breaking free on the left and managed to find the strength to complete the pass while he dragged the defender.

As Olle Watkins raced for goal pulling two defenders with him, Diaby slowed down as he reached the penalty area and Digne knew what to do.  The pass was delivered on a platter and Diaby swept it into Trafford’s far corner.  The desperate dive and outstretched left arm could not reach the clinical shot.  Burnley 1, Aston Villa 3, in the 62nd minute.

Burnley continued to give 100% but our Villans were too well organized and confident to let their advantage be compromised.  In fact, Villa (Watkins) had the best chance to score but Trafford, again, saved.

While lacking suspense, the game was a satisfying one for Villa fans as their team, once again, showed the quality that they reached last year.  Coincidentally, the result saw them reestablish themselves in the 7th spot in the league.  That two weeks prior they were in 20th place is now only a scary memory.

Burnley: Trafford, Roberts, Al Dakhil, O’Shea, Delcroix, Manuel (Gudmundsson 45′), Cullen, Berge (Ramsey 68′), Koleosho (Redmond 68′), Amdouni (Larsen 81′), Foster (Rodríguez 81′).

Unused Subs: Muric, Cork, Brownhill, Vitinho.

Aston Villa: Olsen, Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Cash, Kamara, Luiz (Tielemans 86′), Digne (Traoré 81′), Diaby (Zaniolo 73′), McGinn, Watkins (Durán 86′).

Unused Subs:  Calum Chambers, Filip Marschall, Oliwier Zych, Leon Bailey

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