Despite having one eye on next Saturday’s FA Cup final and all the talk amongst fans of youth players featuring, Tim Sherwood has sworn not to rest players for Sunday’s final Premier League game of the 2015-16 season. Last weekend’s mauling by Mane at St. Mary’s has presumably left Sherwood with a dilemma as he has to decide whether to give senior players the chance to exorcise the demon of defeat or focus on the Wembley encounter with the Gunners. He seems to have made up his mind and it will be interesting to see who starts the final game of what has been another rollercoaster ride of a season. There is also the opportunity to move up the table with a win, which will appeal to the competitive Sherwood, who has cancelled the end of season awards, insisting that only winning the FA Cup, not simply staying in the Premier League, would be cause for celebration. If added incentive is needed, victory tomorrow would see the Villans win three successive home games for the first time since late 2007.
The Villans host the relegated Clarets, who will be hoping to bow out in style and avoid a repeat of the 5-2 defeat they suffered when they last visited Villa Park in 2010. The visitors have little but pride to play for, although victory, depending on results elsewhere, could see them avoid the humiliation of securing the bottom spot in the Premier League table, which will be seen as scant consolation for dropping back down to the second tier.
Whatever the result, I expect a cracking carnival atmosphere at Villa Park for ‘Paul McGrath day’ as the Villa faithful show Sherwood and his players their appreciation and warm up for Wembley.
Aston Villa: L W W L W
Burnley: D W L L L
Kieran Richardson is expected to miss tomorrow’s game as he is still nursing a calf injury.
Jores Okore is suffering from a knee injury and is likely to be rested.
Ciaran Clark’s knee injury will keep him out of action until August.
Libor Kozak, having suffered another setback in his recovery from a broken leg, remains a long term absentee.
Philippe Senderos could, finally, return to action.
Youngsters Andre Green, Lewis Kinsella and Callum Robinson are expected to be part of the match day squad.
Bacuna Senderos Vlaar Hutton
Cleverley Westwood Delph
The Clarets will say goodbye to the Premier League tomorrow afternoon after learning on May 9th that their stay in the top flight would not last beyond the season’s end but Sean Dyche and his squad, nine of them veterans of the promotion campaign, will be in a good position to return to the Premier League in 2016-17 season.
They may well be without Danny Ings, their leading scorer, next season as clubs swoop in for the striker. Collectively, the Clarets have found the net only twenty-seven times this season so far, which has to be seen as the root of relegation, along with their limited funds.
Tomorrow, Dyche will be without long-term absentees Kevin Long and Dean Marney, as both players have knee injuries.
Steven Reid, who announced he will retire from professional football at the end of the season, is expected to make his final appearance for the Clarets.
Referee: Mike Jones
Venue: Villa Park
Tickets: The home sections of the ground will be full and tickets are no longer available to Villa fans
Last meeting: 29th November 2014: Burnley 1 – Aston Villa 1
2-0 – Mark Lawrenson
2-2 – Paul Merson
3-1 – AnneMc