Aston Villa huffed and they puffed and tried as hard as they possibly could, but they simply could not blow down the house of Burnley as the two sides played to a thoroughly-lopsided 0-0 draw at Villa Park on Thursday.
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The hosts outshot the visitors by a margin of 27-6, though their wastefulness cost them two points they otherwise deserved. As such, Aston Villa remains 12th in the Premier League table, while Burnley takes its point and climbs up to 17th — just outside the relegation zone — with a game still in hand.
2 things we learned: Aston Villa – Burnley
1. Plenty of chances and sloppy finishing: For all of Aston Villa’s chances in this game — and there were many — Dean Smith’s side had worlds of trouble finding the back of the net. While Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins, Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore combined to take 22 of their side’s 26 shots, Aston Villa’s absence of a lethal no. 9 reared its ugly head once again. Watkins will have a field day a handful of times each season when the opposition attacks freely and leaves space at the back, but that is the polar opposite of Burnley under Sean Dyche.
2. Burnley holding on for dear life, Thursday and all season (re-post, times six): Sean Dyche had some rather critical thoughts about Burnley’s ongoing inability — or, perhaps, refusal — to move in a more timely manner to sign new players and improve the squad prior to the closing of the transfer window. Until such a change occurs, Dyche’s words are probably worth revisiting regularly.
The first half was full of action and scoring chances — largely in favor of Aston Villa — with the only thing missing being an opening goal.
After a handful of half-chances came and went in the opening 20 minutes, Aston Villa’s first golden scoring opportunity arrived in the 22nd minute. Anwar El Ghazi bounced a cross through the box, from left to right, and somehow found Bertrand Traore at the far post. Traore couldn’t get the shot away from six yards out, and Burnley had survived their first horrific scare.
The Clarets immediately went down the other end of the field and had their only clear-cut chance of the half, and Chris Wood will be thinking he could have done slightly better to beat Emiliano Martinez with his header from nine yards out. Unfortunately for Wood, he didn’t quite put close enough to the post and Martinez made the acrobatic block.
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El Ghazi went inches from breaking the deadlock in the 39th minute, only to be denied by the faintest fingertip save from Nick Pope. El Ghazi’s free kick was bending and dipping away from the Burnley goalkeeper, but he rose all the way up and tipped it onto the crossbar.
Aston Villa finished the first half by hitting the woodwork again in the 44th minute. Kortney Hause got on the end of a corner kick to the far post and had an open net to redirect the ball into, but he didn’t make quite enough contact as it glanced off his head and found the corner intersection of the post and bar.
Burnley managed to slow the tidal wave of chances for 15 minutes to start the second half, but the momentum swung back in Aston Villa’s favor starting in the 66th minute when El Ghazi had his side’s best chance of the game to that point. All by himself down the left side of the six-yard box, the Dutch international scuffed his finish and bounced it into the hands of Pope. It was a chance that needs to hit the back of the net 10 out of 10 times.