Aston Villa have their tails up after long-awaited win against Burnley at Turf Moor

Jack Grealish inspires team to victory after a run of five defeats in six games

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In an era of inflation, even relegation is more expensive. Last season, Fulham spent over £100 million (Dh486m) in the transfer market and went down, aided by a January defeat at Turf Moor. History may repeat itself in one respect for Aston Villa, whose summer outlay approached £130 million. It will not in another.

On Wednesday, Villa’s first top-flight triumph against Burnley at Turf Moor since 1929 arrested the slide of a team who appeared to be going into freefall during a run of five defeats in six games. Villa’s honest appraisal of their own failings drew the right reaction as they moved out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win.

“A hell of a response to our last game,” said manager Dean Smith, referencing the 3-0 loss to 10-man Watford.

“We had a long meeting during the week between ourselves and the management staff,” added captain Jack Grealish.

Big spenders found salvation as much from new ideas as newcomers. While their costliest summer buy, Wesley Moraes, scored just his fifth goal since his £22 million arrival, the inspiration came from two of their own. The local Grealish was supplier and scorer, sublime and supreme.

Smith, a fellow fan, was rewarded for reimagining his side. Villa had regressed since Smith signed a four-year contract five weeks ago. When his side resisted second-half pressure to record just a second win in 28 away Premier League games, supporters were chorusing his name. “Extra special for me because I have been one of them,” said Smith.

Villa were transformed by his five changes and the selection of five defenders. It actually afforded them a platform to play 3-4-2-1. “We only had a couple of days to work on it,” Smith explained.

They adapted quickly and impressively. Their first-half dominance was such that it did not matter they had a goal controversially chalked off. Grealish headed in Ezri Konsa’s cross but, after an interminable delay, Wesley’s stray heel in the build-up meant the Villa striker was adjudged offside.

Neither VAR nor Burnley could halt the irrepressible Grealish, however. The deadlock was broken when Wesley chested down Grealish’s pass before volleying through Nick Pope’s legs. It completed a two-two between the pair. They dovetailed wonderfully. Pope had made a fine save from Wesley the previous time Grealish teed him up.

“He would be a welcome addition to any team in the Premier League,” added Smith. “He is having his best season in terms of goals.” Grealish’s sixth in 12 games came in style as he rifled a shot into the top corner.

Burnley were wretched at the start. “You can’t play like that in the first half in the Premier League,” admitted manager Sean Dyche. Their 4-4-2 looked prosaic and predictable as Grealish floated around between the lines. It felt an indictment of Dyche, who was outmanoeuvred and out-thought by Smith. Burnley were booed off at the break.

They were sparked into life with a double substitution. “I could have made 11 changes,” Dyche said.

The replacement Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood missed fine chances before the New Zealander eventually headed in Ashley Westwood’s cross. It was Burnley’s first goal in the last three games and only their second attempt on target in that time.

It was a painful return to Turf Moor for Tom Heaton. The former Burnley captain did not make a save and was stretchered off after landing awkwardly when failing to save Wood’s header. The loss of goalkeeper and goalscorer, with Wesley also suffering a knee injury, took the gloss off Villa’s win. Both will have scans. Burnley, who face Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United after three successive defeats, have a different kind of concern.