Aston Villa v Burnley
Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa were contemplating a nervy final few months of the season after a 2-0 defeat at Hull in February sent the Midlands side into the bottom three.
However, the arrival of Tim Sherwood as manager galvanised the club, who immediately beat Leicester City in the FA Cup the day after his appointment.
After back-to-back defeats to Stoke and Newcastle, Villa then beat rivals West Bromwich Albion twice in the space of five days, the second again coming in the cup, before defeating Sunderland in what was a scrap at the bottom of the table.
Good form in the league has worked in tandem with a thrilling FA Cup run. The Villains beat Liverpool in the semi-final at Wembley last month to set up a tasty final against Arsenal at the end of the month.
Villa currently sit four points above the drop zone in 16th place and secured safety last weekend despite losing 6-1 at Southampton.
Both sides head into the final game of the season knowing their fate. Burnley, who will be playing Championship football next season, will be aiming for 19th place, while Aston Villa can relax ahead of their FA Cup final six days later.
Aston Villa: WLLDWWLWWL
It’s not just Villa who have benefited under Sherwood’s leadership. Striker Christian Benteke has scored 12 goals in his last 11 games to reignite his prolific scoring record in the 2012/13 season, when he netted 23 times.
The Belgian was ruled out for seven months after tearing his Achilles back in April 2014 and the Villa faithful feared their main man couldn’t replicate his scintillating form coming back from injury as the powerful forward scored just twice in 21 games.
The winner against West Brom in April ended a nine-game barren spell and the forward then never looked back, currently sat in ninth place in the scoring chart for the season, not bad for a striker who scored just two goals before April.
Burnley (Ings 87) 1-1 Aston Villa (Cole 38)
Burnley: Heaton, Keane, Shackell, Ward, Trippier, Kightly (Arfield 65), Marney, Jones (Wallace 83), Boyd, Barnes (Jutkiewicz 65), Ings.
Subs: Sordell, Gilks, Mee, Long
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Cissokho, Clark (Lowton 89), Okore, Sanchez, Cleverley, Westwood, Cole (Grealish 67), Agbonlahor, Weimann (Richardson 78).
Subs: Bacuna, Robinson, N’Zogbia, Given
Aston Villa (Heskey 86, Downing 96) 2-1 Burnley (Carlisle 89)
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Lichaj, Clark, Beye, Sidwell (Collins 118). Reo-Coker, Young, Ireland (Heskey 59), Albrighton (s/o 100), Bannan (Downing 64).
Subs: Johnson, Guzan, Delfouneso, Hogg
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Fox, Duff, Carlisle, Alexander, Wallace, Marney (Elliott 69), Cork (Thompson 87), Paterson (Iwelumo 106), Rodriguez.
Subs: Edgar, Bikey, Jensen, Easton
Steven Reid will play some part on Sunday, in what will be his final ever appearance as a professional footballer, after the former West Brom defender announced his retirement on Monday.
Burnley have no fresh injury worries.
Defenders Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark will both sit out the final day clash, while Kieran Richardson is ruled out with a calf injury.
If Tom Heaton plays the full game on Sunday, the goalkeeper would have played in every minute in every league game this season, with Kieran Trippier and Jason Shackell also starting every league fixture.
Sean Dyche: “We’ve made it clear all season that we plan to win and it won’t change now. We want to give a performance for our fans who’ve been terrific all season, particularly on the road because we know how costly that can be.”
Tim Sherwood: “We want to go out with a win. We owe it to our fans who have stuck by us and helped us over the line. We want to send them home happy. It's a full house. We want to give a good performance.”
Michael Jones will be the man in the middle for our final fixture of the season against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
The fixture against the Villans will be the 34th of the season for the official born in Chester, with 20 of those coming in the Premier League.
So far in the 2014/15 campaign, Jones has issued 114 yellow cards and 10 reds.
Jones has officiated the Clarets twice this season, the first coming in the 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane in December.
His last Burnley fixture came in Burnley’s 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park in April, where he sent off Ashley Barnes for two first half cautions.
Mr Jones will be assisted by Mr. Richard West, Mr. Mark Scholes and fourth official Mr. David Coote.
Sunday 25th May 2015 (All 3pm kick-offs)
Arsenal v West Brom
Aston Villa v Burnley
Chelsea v Sunderland
Crystal Palace v Swansea
Everton v Tottenham
Hull v Man United
Leicester v QPR
Man City v Southampton
Newcastle v West Ham
Stoke v Liverpool