A season defining game before Christmas.... I must be mad. Unfortunately this is just what it is for both teams.

Burnley's terrible start to the season has been somewhat forgotten in recent weeks with back to back wins and encouraging performances. Villa's surprising start is the only thing keeping us out of the relegation zone, with a series of injuries to key players, some bad luck and some dire performances.

A defeat for Villa and surely the writing is on the wall, its all huff and puff on the pitch for Villa with very little finesse, without trying to be disrespectful of Burnley, this is a game a club like ours should be going in to expecting to win, expecting to dominate.

Sure football doesn't always work out like that, but even before the game I'm sat worried about the fact we're going to turn up and sit deep... and this shouldn't be the case.

Burnley are a club that decided to change its colours to Claret and Blue because of our clubs success... and come Saturday, Lambert will (i'm sure) be sending out a team to get a point, and maybe pinch all 3. A sure sign of how far we have fallen, and continue to do so.

Saturdays team news looks bleak also, Benteke serving the final game of his suspension, Vlarr, Senderos and Delph still out. Bent has been sent out on Loan with Robinson coming back. All this not helped with Weimann and N'Zogbia being way out of any kind of form and Sanchez still adapting to life in the Premier League.

I do feel for Lambert in this regard, the fans still have the same expectation, even when, arguably, his best 3 players aren't available. And other key individuals being out of form. However he has stuck by these players, resisting using players like Grealish, Cole and Okore. Now his hand might be forced and we can see if he was right to hold them back and keep faith.

On last weeks performance of Okore, it would seem that Lambert's reluctance to play these players is misplaced and perhaps they deserve a chance.

Rumours around the club suggest that Grealish is set to get his first start in place of N'Zogbia and given a free role behind a front 2 of Gabby and Weimann... we expect to get better word today after the final training session and see what he's had young Jack doing. There is also a chance that Robinson will get some time on the pitch after being recalled from his loan at Preston, this I fear is not for first team action though, more to cover for Bent being sent on loan. A move that the young player seems less than impressed by....  

Potential Line up.

GK - Guzan

Def - Hutton Clark Okore Cissoko

DM - Sanchez

CM - Cleverly Westwood

AM - Grealish

AT - Gabby Weimann

From a Villa point of view Burnley have two main threats. Danny Ings who is a goal threat to any defence and their wide men, who both are direct and have pace, something our full backs struggle with. Its all goes back to the fact if Villa can dominate the ball and force Burnley back we nullify those threats, that is truly the best form of defence against team like Burnley.

A higher defensive line is possible with Okore in the team, that man is quick and will go stride for stride with most in the League. Hutton and Cissoko just need to push their opposing men backwards from the off.

I am one of the more positive Villa fans, yet I just can't see a win coming any time soon, not until our big hitters are back. My prediction is a 2-2 draw... won't it be nice to score 2 in a game eh? And I'm sure it will be described as an "excellent point" 

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With the number of games coming up he'll probably swap things around anyway. 60 minutes for Cole was about right, and Grealish was a good substitution, as you say. Not sure what the best team for Tuesday is, Crystal Palace could get rough. Benteke definitely. But does he drop one of Gabby and Andi, or say it's the sort of game where they could be effective? Think I'd definitely drop Andi, he doesn't do two games close together at all well.

Another lead blown, another so called winnable game only one point, forwards Gabby Andi and Nzogbia are absolute pathetic. Cant control the ball let alone score.  Once they scored they really should have won had enough chances. 

I don't know when we will win a game this was suppose to be the one when we got the three points but not surprised we blew it.

Palace wont be easy they play with a lot of pace and Power and don't give up easily I can see it being another point for Villa nothing more.

We can only hope 3 teams will do worse. How that can happen I don't know, but that's all we can hope for.

Nope. We need to think positive. We have winnable matches between now and the new year, matches we should win, and we have to go out and win them. There was nothing wrong with that performance today except that our current forwards were incapable of scoring, AGAIN.  In the short term we have to hope that Benteke can do the job (I'm reasonably sure he can) and doesn't get sent off again.

But we need to get an extra striker in in January if at all possible. I think Robinson and Grealish will be given opportunities. But it's not reasonable to expect them to fill the gap, yet. Pity Kozak is still out; not sure if he'll be back this season.

I thought Grealish was a bit disappointing actually. I like that whenever he got the ball his first thought was to turn and run at defenders. He had a decent chance that he struck well, albeit straight at Heaton. It was off the ball where he was poor. The time that stuck in my mind was when he passed the ball to Gabby down the right wing when we were breaking forward, he then didn't follow the pass and stayed where he was watching while Gabby was just starting to be surrounded by three players and there was a huge space between the FB and CB where the three had closed him down yet he did nothing to give Gabby an option. If he'd ran into that space, all Gabby had to do was slip it to him and he would've had a chance to run at the CB on the edge of the area. Defensively off the ball is barely worth mentioning. Given that our style requires all 10 players to pull their weight in terms of closing down and working hard, then Grealish was a bit of a passenger in that respect. I can't believe a young lad like him was tired after being on the pitch for 5 minutes.

Ultimately though it was Gabby giving the ball away that meant Okore was caught off guard/out of position that led to the disappointing draw. Still, move on to Palace and hope we can get a result. Lambert will have to rotate a bit as a 3 day turn around is a lot to ask given how much Gabby and Weimann had to run today. Lucky Okore didn't get sent off though, letter of the law and all that

I didn't see the game, but followed it on Sky sports news (lucky to get that on a ship in Asia!!). We may have played well, but I was sat there waiting for Burnley to score, it is now inevitable what is going to happen.

There may be positives to be taken, but we were playing Burnley, we should be beating them and I keep saying it, but a different boss would have got these same players to win games like this.

I also keep repeating about 1987, but this is what happened back then, we either got battered, or took the lead and you waited for the inevitable.

Sorry to be the neg head on the forum, but 3 draws and 6 defeats is not good enough and the way we are going there will not be 3 worse teams than us come May.

I wish we had won today (deep down I want Lambert to succeed, but I think he is now stuck in a rut that he cannot get out of) a few wins and this might change, but every game that goes by without a win is a game closer to relegation.

Sad but true. UTV

no, i dont reckon this is true at all. 

I think we will stay up. In spells today we played some cracking football, and anyone who doesn't see that is blind. Having a No.10 that passes the ball made a huge difference. We ned to try and get on in January, we really do...as Nzogbia doesnt pass, Weimann cant do it too effectively (though he does ok between the lines in fairness to him), and  Cole is too injury prone. 

Would love to have seen Delph in that role.....i wonder will we at some point...would be nice to let him have all the license to push on....

Andi will get rested for Tuesday. 

Gabby and Benteke up top, with Cole behind. 

i, personally, cant wait :-)

You're right one thing we have conditioned ourselves to is accepting crumbs. Now I suppose that's fair enough from the rich mans table but not from the paupers.

We should have beaten Burnley, even without Benteke, when you hear on the radio or the net that so and so had a good shot saved by the goalkeeper, you are encouraged. Then you watch the game on TV later and see those shots are straight at him, down his throat, what do you expect. Our strikers seem to think it's worth something to shoot straight at the keeper.

We just have to sign an old fashioned poacher in January to change this.

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