After over three months away the Premier League has finally returned, with Aston Villa vs Sheffield United kicking off the action.
One of two rescheduled games before the league as a whole restarts, this fixture was initially set to be played at the end of February but had to be delayed due to Aston Villa’s participation in the Carabao Cup final – which they lost 2-1 to Manchester City.
But with all eyes now firmly on the Premier League, Aston Villa must turn their attention to their fight for survival. Dean Smith‘s side are currently 19th with 10 games remaining, but can jump out of the relegation zone into 16th if they beat Sheffield United.
However, the Blades have history in their sights. After gaining promotion from the Championship last season, Chris Wilder‘s men are seventh in the Premier League and chasing European football for the first time in the club’s 130-year history.
A win over Villa would see Sheffield United leapfrog Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United into fifth, taking control of the Europa League race – although fifth could also mean Champions League football if Manchester City‘s ban is upheld.
Aston Villa & Sheffield United’s lineups & live stats:
Jack Grealish has now won 128 fouls, which according to Opta is more than any player during a Premier League season since they started collating such data in 1998. Click on his icon above to bring up full match stats.
Players to watch:
- Aston Villa: Jack Grealish. Aston Villa’s hopes of survival this season appear to rest solely on the shoulders of Grealish. The English midfielder has been Villa‘s standout star throughout the campaign, often lifting them in games and keeping them in with a chance of safety. Of Villa‘s 34 Premier League goals this season, Grealish has been involved in 13 (38.2%) scoring seven and adding six assists. Unsurprisingly, he leads Villa for both goals and assists, but Grealish also remains the most fouled man in the Premier League, winning 127 fouls in total, 33 more than any other player. A stellar set of performances this season have once again seen Grealish linked with a move to Manchester United in recent days but, for now, the Villa captain will have his eyes set on keeping his boyhood club in the Premier League.
- Sheffield United: Dean Henderson. One of the roadblocks the Premier League’s suspension threw at clubs is that of player contracts, with many initially set to become free agents at the end of June. One of those is Henderson, whose loan from Manchester United would have lasted until the end of the month – clear of any football Sheffield United may have needed him to play. But now the Blades have had to work to get Henderson to increase his loan until the revised end of the Premier League campaign, as clubs across the division have had to do with their out-of-contract players. In his pre-match press conference, Wilder revealed the club are close to securing Henderson for the remainder of the season. “I spoke to Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) yesterday morning and I thanked him for his co-operation with Dean. We’re in a situation where Dean will hopefully agree a deal to stay until the end of the season in the coming days.” The news will be a huge boost for Sheffield United in their question for European football, with Henderson being one of the league’s top goalkeepers this season. Only Nick Pope (11) has kept more clean sheets than Henderson’s 10 this season, while only Liverpool (9) have conceded fewer away goals than Sheffield United (12) in the Premier League.
Pre-match scoreline prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Sheffield United
Premier League 2019/20 recent form:
- Aston Villa: WLLLL
- Sheffield United: LWWDW