Burnley have regularly beaten the Premier League stragglers this season and should add Aston Villa to their list of scalps on New Year's Day, says Andy Schooler...
"The Clarets have faced five of the bottom 11 at home so far and have won each game without conceding."
Burnley v Aston Villa
Wednesday 1 January, 12:30
Live on BT Sport 2
Burnley have consistently beaten the Premier League's stragglers this season and despite back-to-back losses over Christmas, they should be relishing the visit of lowly Aston Villa.
The Clarets have faced five of the bottom 11 at home so far and have won each game without conceding. Only the top three and Spurs have won more home games.
Their gameplan is pretty old school but it is effective - at least against the lesser sides.
Playing to the strengths of strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, Burnley like to get crosses into the box and in Dwight McNeil they have found an excellent provider of chances to their front pair.
After a costly Boxing Day error at Everton, he was singled out for praise by boss Sean Dyche after Saturday's loss to Manchester United and his strong form continues.
It was also a bad mistake, this time from Charlie Taylor, which essentially lost Burnley the game against United and such defensive errors creeping into what is normally a solid backline may be regarded as a concern.
Villa's defensive woes
However, I'd be much more worried about the problems which have dogged the Villa defence all season long.
They are the owners of the league's worst away record - just four points taken from a possible 30 - with 22 away goals conceded being the highest figure in the top flight.
Eight of their 10 away games have seen at least two goals conceded and they've had particular issues at set-plays - they've conceded 10 from such situations, more than any other side. With McNeil and Ashley Westwood, another with an excellent delivery, in opposition, that could easily become 11 or more in this match.
Villa will be desperate to get England international Tyrone Mings fit again but he remains a doubt for this one, while left-back Matt Targett looks set to miss out after suffering a hamstring strain at Watford at the weekend.
Further forward, John McGinn continues to be sorely missed.
That trip to Watford resulted in a 3-0 defeat and left boss Dean Smith questioning his side's "endeavour and attitude". He'll hope that elicits a response but he's playing a dangerous game with his job on the line if their poor run - currently five defeats in six - continues here.
Even the odd match out in that streak, a 1-0 home win over rock-bottom Norwich, saw several big chances conceded and their triumph that day owed more to their opponents' profligacy than anything else.
Smith's tinkering with Jack Grealish's position, often pushing him to the left, remains a source of frustration among Villa fans and baffling to some neutrals. If they are to survive, Villa have to get the best out of their star man.
In short, there's plenty to like about Burnley here, including the price.
With Villa arguably the worst team in the league on current form, 1.8810/11 about a side who have proven they regularly beat teams of Villa's quality on home soil looks very backable.
Villa are 4.67/2 shots and the draw 3.9 but there's only one outcome I'm interested in the outright win market.
An alternative is to back them to win to nil again, offered at 3.259/4, but Villa have had goals in them for much of the season, albeit they've managed just two in their last four games.
Low goal tally?
With that in mind, there could also be potential value in the goal lines with under 2.5 odds-against at 2.0621/20.
As well as Villa's recent struggles to score, all three of Burnley's games over the festive period have come in under 2.5 as they failed to create a great deal.
However, that shaky Villa defence has seen their games regularly come in over the 2.5 mark (70%) so there seems little point in adding another short-priced pick to the betting slip.
Instead a much bigger price which could interest comes in the 'shown a card' market.
The aforementioned McNeil has collected three cards in his last seven matches, all for fouls, yet he's available at 11.010/1 on the Exchange (liquidity small at time of writing) or 13/2 with the Sportsbook.
This is game between two of the top three teams in the 'fouls made' list so there's plenty of potential for ref Michael Oliver - almost bang on the league average for cards shown - to be kept busy.
Burnley have lost just one of their last 11 league meetings with Aston Villa (W5 D5), losing 2-5 at Villa Park in February 2010.
Andy Schooler's P/L 2019/20
2pts Burnley to win @ 1.8810/11