Burnley are firmly in a relegation battle as they sit 19th, five points away from safety halfway through the season. Their challenge intensifies once again as they travel to high-flying Aston Villa, a team that has not lost at home since 18 February 2023.
Yet, Vincent Kompany is relishing the chance to go and spoil the party in Birmingham if they continue their good performances in this fixture.
‘What is the point of being in the Premier League if you are not excited to go to Villa Park?’ he joked, adding that ‘it is important to seize our moments. We had moments against Arsenal, Brighton, and Liverpool, but in these types of games, you have to put them in the net, and you have to have a goalkeeper and defender to put in an extraordinary performance.’
Despite this belief that there is always a chance to gain a result against any Premier League side, Kompany has been impressed by the juggernaut that Villa has become, and he credits this to Unai Emery.
‘There were some young talents that had to go through some struggles as well in the Premier League, but they have matured into top Premier League players now, and it has all come together where the young players have turned into experienced players and a new manager comes in with ideas that suit the team, and they are just going to keep progressing,’ explained Kompany.Embed from Getty Images
‘He landed a sleeping giant that was well funded and had a long-term strategy for acquiring the best talent. He must have done his research on that, and he must have spotted that. His coaching methods and his ideas have just turned them into a machine.’
The admiration of the Basque manager for developing Aston Villa to this point while also having much more scope to grow is one that Kompany takes inspiration from. The Belgian wakes up excited every day to come and work with his squad and hopes that his club can achieve a similar trajectory.
Kompany said: ‘These guys are only going to get better, and that means our team will get better through the season.’
‘It is an exciting team to work with; there is not a day I don’t look forward to helping them and turning those performances into results.’
And it is the results that are needed to keep the club in the Premier League as the Clarets approach a testing period of the season with a number of difficult fixtures in the next month. Kompany discussed openly the need to plan for both a scenario of survival and the dreaded thought of relegation.
He said: ‘Ultimately getting results is what makes you a Premier League player and we haven’t made that step yet, but I’m confident we will turn our good performances into results.’
‘If you come in from the Premier League from the Championship, you are one of the bottom three budgets in the league.’
‘That means, realistically, you have to have a scenario like this. Your goal and my job are to beat those odds, but we plan for that, and we never shine away from that. We also plan on staying up, and that is a more exciting scenario.’Embed from Getty Images
‘I can only focus on our team; in the end, I feel it is still all in our hands, and every minute I spend trying to help the players is better spent than trying to hope that other teams do us favours.’
‘I have a feeling that our team has that run of games in it—two or three games where we are able to win in a row. I think we have it in us, but we aren’t there yet. But that is my sole focus.’
But with the focus on getting points and quickly keeping the club in the division, there will not be a panic to bring in reinforcements in the January transfer window.
Kompany said: ‘I’m very conscious of where the club is and how to sustain and remain healthy. But the biggest improvement we can make is with our players, as we have mentioned. Making more steps through the next few months, I think what we are discussing at the moment is what-if scenarios.’
‘If an offer was to come in for a player, we would be able to do something in the market; if a player became available on loan, we may be able to do something. So, I don’t think you go and buy Premier League-quality players with the type of money you would have to spend.’
This means that the young talent in the squad will need to start making that step up to secure their status as a Premier League club. The first step is overcoming Aston Villa on Saturday at 3pm to ignite their survival battle.