All signs point favorably to Aston Villa hosting Burnley on Saturday as the Covid-19 pandemic forces matches elsewhere into postponement.
Half of this weekend’s slate of games have been called off due to rising coronavirus cases that have infiltrated several Premier League camps. Villa have at least two positive cases in their squad but appear largely unaffected by the recent outbreak.
They enter the weekend in 10th with 22 points from 17 matches, having most recently toppled Norwich City, 2-0, at Carrow Road on Tuesday.
A win would see Villa move up to seventh in the table, tied with Tottenham, who will have four games in hand before they host Liverpool on Sunday.
Manager Steven Gerrard hopes to secure his fifth win in seven matches since joining the club in early November. Three points on Saturday would further cement Villa’s status as European contenders heading into the New Year.
Struggling Burnley, who haven’t scored in over 300 minutes of Premier League action, are winless in their last nine top-flight matches (4 draws, 5 losses). The Clarets were held scoreless in five of those nine contests.
Villa won only once in their previous six meetings with Burnley having most recently won 2-1 at Turf Moor on New Years Day, 2020. Wesley and Jack Grealish provided the goals on that occasion.
Aston Villa vs. Burnley team news
At least two of Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson, and Anwar El Ghazi are observing Covid-19 protocol, but all three will miss out on Saturday for the second-straight game.
Marvelous Nakamba picked up an injury in the Liverpool match at the weekend, and on Friday it was revealed that the defensive midfielder had surgery and will miss the next 12 to 16 weeks.
Gerrard remains without the services of wingers Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore, who are out long-term. The gaffer also revealed Ashley Young is “50-50” for Saturday’s fixture.
Sean Dyche is without Ashley Barnes, Connor Roberts, and Dale Stephens. There is a positive Covid-19 in the Burnley ranks, but the name of that player has not been revealed.
Maxwel Cornet and Josh Brownhill are expected to return to the Burnley squad on Saturday.
Carney Chukwuemeka to start for Aston Villa?
Villa’s 18-year-old star-in-the-making Carney Chukwuemeka could start his second Premier League match on Saturday after an impressive cameo at Norwich.
Introduced in the 83rd minute, Chukwuemeka played primarily as an attacking midfielder on the left side and assisted Ollie Watkins’ 87th-minute goal.
With key absences in midfield and attack, Chukwuemeka could get his shot to impress the gaffer against a defensive Burnley side. He’s in contention for a starting role with the likes of Danny Ings, Trézéguet, and potentially Young vying as well.
This season we’ve seen 20-year-old Jacob Ramsey come into his own as a regular starter for Villa. Chukwuemeka could be the next academy product afforded a genuine first-team opportunity.
Aston Villa projected Starting XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Douglas Luiz J. Ramsey; Buendia, Chukwuemeka; Watkins
Burnley projected Starting XI: Pope; Lowton, Mee, Tarkoski, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Wood, Cornet
Date/time: Saturday, December 18 at 3:00 PM BST/10:00 AM EST
Ground: Villa Park
Referee: Andrew Madley
TV/Streaming UK: NA
TV/Streaming US: NBCSN