Mike Jackson knows Burnley will only benefit from playing before their relegation rivals in the Premier League this weekend if they can get a positive result at home to Aston Villa.
A fine run under Jackson has lifted Burnley to 16th in the table, ahead of Leeds United on goal difference and two clear of Everton in the relegation zone – albeit the Toffees have a game in hand.
Burnley could stretch their advantage further on Saturday when they host Villa, with Leeds and Everton both in action the following day. Leeds go to Arsenal, while Everton visit Leicester City.
A victory would therefore pile the pressure on the teams below the Clarets, but Jackson is not getting ahead of himself.
“It can be (positive) if you get a positive result,” he said. “You are the first up, but it is about making sure we deliver.
“It doesn’t make any difference who plays when if you don’t.”
Focusing only on Burnley’s results is Jackson’s approach to the relegation battle as a whole, not thinking about who else might be dragged into the scrap. Opponents Villa are one of three teams six points above them.
“I haven’t really looked at the table,” Jackson said.
“I am not thinking about a points total. The big thing for us is to finish above that line. That is all that matters and that is my whole focus.”
Villa manager Steven Gerrard knows how tough it will be to visit Turf Moor right now, adding: “I’m sure the atmosphere will be really strong. We expect a tough game and a tough challenge.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Burnley – Jack Cork
Cork went 84 games without a goal between scoring against Liverpool in December 2018 and then netting in last week’s win at Watford. Given Burnley’s forwards are not scoring as regularly as Jackson might like, he will hope Cork does not have to wait quite as long for his next goal.
Aston Villa – Danny Ings
Former Burnley forward Ings could claim a share of history on Saturday. He has scored in his past three Premier League games against the Clarets, with only one player – Craig Bellamy against Newcastle United – netting in four in a row against a team they previously played for in the competition.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Burnley are looking to win consecutive league games against Aston Villa for the first time since January 1973, following their 3-2 win in this exact fixture last season.
– Aston Villa have won just one of their last 26 away league games against Burnley (D6 L19), winning 2-1 in January 2020.
– The eight Premier League meetings between Burnley and Aston Villa have alternated between a draw (four) and a victory for either side (two each), with Burnley winning the last match 3-2 in January 2021.
– Burnley and Aston Villa will face each other for the first time in this Premier League campaign. This is the latest into a season two top-flight teams are meeting for their first league game since 1987-88, when Luton Town and Nottingham Forest met for the first time on May 13.
– Burnley are looking to secure four consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since April 2018 (a run of five), while they have won as many points in their four games under Jackson as they had in their previous 10 under Sean Dyche (10).