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Some may argue that Steven Gerrard has performed below expectations since arriving at Villa Park, with the Lions embarking on a spending spree but competing in the lower echelons of the table during an underwhelming 2022.
After trying and failing to hold onto their one-goal lead versus Liverpool, lightning struck twice for Villa during the visit of Crystal Palace, as Ollie Watkins prodded home the opener before Jeffrey Schlupp was allowed to drift into space and tap home in the 81st minute to restore parity for the Eagles.
With only two wins from their last nine Premier League games to shout about, Gerrard’s side find themselves languishing in 14th in the table at the time of writing but only four points behind Leicester City, so a top-half finish is not entirely out of the question just yet.
Facing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium could hardly represent a more challenging way to end the season, where Gerrard may have to steer his side to the unlikeliest of results if he is to ensure that Liverpool will remain in the title conversation until the last knockings.
Aston Villa can take solace in the fact that they have overcome both Chelsea and Arsenal in their final home games of the season over the past two years, but Gerrard’s side have only won twice at home in 2022 and ought to be prepared for a true battle in physicality this week.
Gerrard admitted after the draw with Palace that he was “concerned” about the knee injury that Ezri Konsa picked up in the 50th minute, and the centre-back is now facing up to 16 weeks on the sidelines.
Kortney Hause and Leon Bailey are keeping Konsa company in the medical bay, while Calum Chambers should step in for his counterpart at the back.
Jacob Ramsey will also expect a recall to the first XI after coming on for Marvelous Nakamba on the 66-minute mark against Palace, while Emiliano Buendia has fond memories of this fixture and could also be in the conversation.
Meanwhile, Burnley boss Jackson is still sweating over the fitness of key centre-back pairing Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, with the latter thought to have a slim chance of coming back this week.
Dale Stephens should also be fine to apply for a place in the visiting squad – the same can be said for Jay Rodriguez – but Erik Pieters, Matej Vydra, Ashley Westwood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson remain out of action.
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Wout Weghorst was sacrificed as Jackson opted for a defensively-minded setup in the defeat to Tottenham, but the Dutchman will expect to return and spearhead the charge at Villa Park.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho
Burnley possible starting lineup:
Pope; Roberts, Collins, Long, Taylor; McNeil, Cork, Brownhill, Cornet; Barnes, Weghorst