With Steer drafted in to replace the injured Given and N’Zogbia at left back, an attacking Villa team took to the pitch for the final Premier League game of a disappointing campaign.
Sherwood’s side looked sluggish from the start and were punished after six minutes when Bacuna’s poor headed clearance went back into the box, where Barnes was waiting and duly set up the Clarets’ top scorer, Ings, whose dipping, thumping header beat Steer.
As Cleverley headed the ball across goal, Vlaar had to chance to put the Villans level after sixteen minutes but he blazed the ball wide.
In the midst of a bitty first half, it was the visitors who were creating the better chances and they were almost rewarded for Boyd’s impressive run down the right in the twenty-sixth minute as he crossed the ball in for Ings, whose volley from close range was too high.
Belatedly showing some signs of life in the final ten minutes of the first half, the home side had two good chances within three minutes, both of which fell to Benteke. The Belgian striker proved rather wasteful when, after latching on to Bacuna’s cross, he fired wide. Heaton then denied the Belgian his fiftieth goal for the Villans after thirty-eight minutes when he saved Benteke’s diving header at the far post.
The first half drew to a close with Heaton making an outstanding reflex save to keep Westwood’s volley out of his net.
The second half saw a slightly more energetic Villa side emerge but the approach was still rather casual at first.
Despite the best efforts of Benteke and Delph, the home team could not get past the Clarets’ bullish back line.
Agbonlahor caused the fans some frustration just after the hour mark when he squandered a great chance to equalise. On the edge of the box, with acres of space, he collected Benteke’s pass after the Belgian’s fine run then shot low with his left foot, allowing Heaton to make the save comfortably.
After seventy-three minutes, Heaton had another opportunity to show why Hodgson has included him in his England squad, confidently pushing away Delph’s left-footed effort from long range.
Heaton was the hero again as his brilliant diving save denied N’Zogbia, whose fierce drive from twenty yards out seemed destined for the back of the net.
In truth, it was an uninspiring match as the Villans slumped to their twentieth defeat of another season overshadowed by the threat of relegation. The defeat meant that the Villans finished seventeenth in the Premier League, which is their worst ever top flight finish, and they certainly didn’t frighten the Gunners, their opponents in Saturday’s FA Cup final, who spent the afternoon racking up the goals against West Bromwich Albion.
Looking rather irritated, Tim Sherwood said:
“We didn’t show enough imagination. The fluency wasn’t there but you have to give Burnley credit for that; they blocked it out and there was no space behind them.
It doesn’t help when you go behind because they come for just about anything and that’s what they got.
The boys tried hard enough but it was just lacking a little bit of quality. Everyone came here and expected us to roll over Burnley. I’m not sure how many times any team has done that to them.
The commitment was there and the effort was there but we just lacked the quality. Now we will dust ourselves down.”