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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Burnley

Sports Mole looks ahead to Aston Villa's visit of already-relegated Burnley on the final day of the Premier League season.

Aston Villa host already-relegated Burnley on the final day of the Premier League season this Sunday keen to bounce back from their 6-1 annihilation at Southampton last week.

With an FA Cup final against Arsenal coming up next Saturday, manager Tim Sherwood will also hope that the Villans travel to Wembley with a morale-boosting win in tow.

Aston Villa

Tom Cleverley of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and West Ham United at Villa Park on May 9, 2015© Getty Images

It is difficult to know how Aston Villa players and staff would have reacted to Hull City's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday. It confirmed Villa's safety after spending most of the season flirting with relegation.

Hours earlier, though, Sherwood's side left the pitch at St Mary's despondent after being on the wrong side of a 6-1 demolition, with five of the goals being scored in the first half.

It was a Championship performance from a Premier League team and the Villans could have been forgiven for treating Spurs' win with muted celebrations.

Still, Sherwood has succeeded in what he set out to achieve following his appointment in February - survival - but there could yet be the added bonus of a trophy at the end of a difficult season.

They travel to Wembley next Saturday for a date with Arsenal in the final of the FA Cup, and the 46-year-old will want to use the visit of Burnley as an opportunity to banish the dejection lingering from their visit to Southampton before meeting the Gunners.

Consequently, Sherwood could face something of a selection dilemma on Sunday; stuck between playing his best XI to get St Mary's out of their system, and risking injuries, or benching his key players and letting them go into Wembley with last week's demolition still on their minds.

However, it is a dilemma that the Villa boss will welcome.

Recent form: DWLWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWWL


Danny Ings celebrates scoring for Burnley on May 9, 2015© Getty Images

Burnley have gone down fighting, with manager Sean Dyche, an advocate of the perceived old-fashioned 4-4-2 system, doing it his way. In truth though, relegation was always on the cards for the Clarets in a season that seldom produced hope that they could survive.

Having only managed successive wins on one occasion all season, it has been a case of one step forward and two back for Dyche's side for much of the campaign.

They beat Hull City 1-0 earlier this month but results elsewhere confirmed that they would be the first team to be relegated this season - Queens Park Rangers followed the next day.

Burnley achieved promotion through prudent investment in the playing staff, with the club's hierarchy cautious over loosening the purse strings too much, and the same policy was employed last summer.

Several of their eight pre-season recruits arrived on Bosman deals and the tight budget is reflected in their relegation from the top flight.

The Clarets' only incentive on Sunday is to avoid finishing last. They sit above bottom-of-the-table QPR on goal difference, and victory would provide a nice ending to a season that was perhaps doomed before it began.

Recent form: LLLLWL

Team News

Kieran Richardson in action for Aston Villa on September 27, 2014© Getty Images

Sherwood has no fresh injury concerns from the 6-1 mauling by the Saints last weekend.

Left-back Kieran Richardson, who missed out last weekend, has not trained due to a calf injury and is not expected to be involved.

However, youngsters Andre Green, Callum Robinson and Lewis Kinsella are likely to be included in the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Danny Ings is likely to spearhead the visitors' attack on what is expected to be his final game for the club.

Likewise, Steven Reid, 34, will hope to make his final appearance in professional football after announcing his retirement earlier this week.

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Senderos, Bacuna; Cleverley, Delph, Weimann, Grealish; Sinclair, Agbonlahor

Burnley possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee; Arfield, Jones, Reid, Boyd; Barnes, Ings

Head To Head

Burnley are chasing their first league victory over Villa since 1976 - a 3-1 win at Turf Moor. Since then, the West Midlands side have won two and drawn three of the subsequent five meetings - including a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture this season.

Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:

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We say: Aston Villa 2-0 Burnley

After watching his side get torn apart by the Saints last weekend, Sherwood will demand a response - and he should get one. Man for man, Villa boast better players than Burnley and we think that they will finish what has been a difficult season in style on Sunday.

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Jack Grealish in action for Aston Villa on May 9, 2015
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