Project Restart Preview – Aston Villa v Sheffield United – Everything you need to know

It has been confirmed that Villa will be back in action following the Premier League Covid-19 shutdown, facing Sheffield United on Wednesday 17th June 2020.

The Villa Underground has compiled the following page to provide you with as much advance information as is currently available.

This page will be updated where there are any confirmed changes or when further relevant news should break.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

It is important to note that this fixture, and all Villa’s remaining Premier League games of the 2019/2020 campaign, will be played behind closed doors.  This is as a result social distancing restrictions put in place to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus where large congregated gatherings ordinarily occur.

Supporters are urged not to attend Villa Park for this game – you will not be able to enter the stadium. It is also unlikely you will be able to get near to the ground at or around the time of the match either.

Police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, has stated that “football’s return could put a major strain on stretched police forces“.  Police have also reportedly considered placing road-blocks and ‘rings of steel’ around grounds to prevent fans from gathering.

Whilst football fans will need little introduction to the powers Police possess, it is important to be aware that emergency legislation introduced as Covid-19 escalated provides the authorities with additional powers of arrest and dispersement.

Whilst this guidance, legislation and any relaxation of it are subject to regular review, it is advisable to stay away.  Penalties include fines (£50-£3200), right up to a criminal conviction (and even greater fines).

MATCH DETAILS

Fixture: Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United

Date: 17th June 2020

Kick Off Time: 6pm – 18:00 – GMT / UK

Venue: Villa Park

Tickets: N/A – Behind Closed Doors

HOW TO WATCH

Aston Villa versus Sheffield United will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Channels:  Sky Sports Football & Sky Sports Main Event.

You will therefore also be able to watch the game via NowTV.

Note this game will not be available on BTSport (you will need to have Sky Sports added to your package).  Whilst the BBC has 4 fxitures that will be free to air on TV in the UK, Villa vs Sheffield United is not one of them.

Pubs: Bars, pubs and clubs are not anticipated to have re-opened by the 17th June.  You will need to have a personal TV subscription (or access) to a paid service to view the game in your own home.

Many fans will be dissapointed to learn that bars and pubs will at the earliest re-open on or after 4th July 2020, but with significant restrictions in place that will certainly far remove it from the matchday experience pre-lockdown.

RADIO COVERAGE

BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport will be providing radio coverage of the Villa v Sheffield United game (and all other remaining Premier League fixtures.

REVERSE FIXTURE

Sheffield United were the winners in the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane (December 2019).

United won the match 2-0 in a game that featured Jack Grealish missing a penalty.

‘Highlights’ of that match can be found below:

LEAGUE POSITIONS

Aston Villa go into the game second to bottom in the Premier League.  We are currently in 19th place, with 25 points.  A win would lift Villa out of the relegation zone and into 16th spot.  A draw would see us remain in 19th spot, with Bournemouth current on 27 points.

Sheffield United would go into fifth with a win, rising about Manchester United.  The visitors are presently 7th, on 43 points.

Both sides have played 28 games, thus resulting in this fixture taking place first, making up the teams’ game in hand on the remainder of the division.

Manchester City and Arsenal will play out the only other ‘game in hand’ fixture before the rest of the league, all having played 29 games already, resumes that weekend.

Screenshot Credit: Wikipedia

IN QUOTES

Jack Grealish:

“There’s so much belief

I was only speaking to the manager yesterday about how good we’re looking as a team in training, fitness-wise and with the ball.

We could only start contact training this week, but since we have, we’ve tried to work on stuff that we need to improve on.

I know there was quite a lot of stuff we could improve on.

The break came at a good time for us as we weren’t having a good set of results.

We’ve had time to reflect on stuff, we’ve been working hard and we’ll come back raring to go.

I know that I will.

It’s going to be tough but it’s something that we’ve got to deal with.”

Embed from Getty Images

[Quote Source]

COVID-19 TESTING

The Premier League has introduced regular testing of players and staff as part of ‘Project Restart’.

As of 4th June 2020, there had been no reports of any positive Coronavirus tests within either the Aston Villa or Sheffield United squads.

Source: Premier League

MATCH: KEY FACTS

  • Both sides were promoted from The Championship last term.  United secured automatic promotion whilst Villa beat Derby County in the Playoff Final at Wembley Stadium.
  • Villa are on 25 points, two from relegation safety.
  • Sheffield United are 43 points, vying for European football next season.
  • United have lost just seven times this season.
  • Villa restart off the back of four staight league defeats before lockdown was imposed.
  • United, by contrast, are unbeaten in their last four outings – Winning 3 and drawing 1.
  • They also haven’t lost to us in their last three games, including a 2-0 win at Bramall Lane last December.
  • Villa have, however, won two of the last five at home.
  • Only Manchester City have lost fewer away games (1) than Sheffield United (2).
  • United have won their last two away games 1-0.
  • John McGinn is available, having returned to full match fitness following a broken ankle.
  • Tom Heaton remains injured and recuperating from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.  The England international will not feature again this season.
  • Brazilian striker Wesley is also sidelined following the serious knee injury sustained in January.
  • Jed Steer is back in training following an achilles injury and may feature.
  • Villa currently have no players ineligible through suspension.
  • The game was due to take place on 29th February, but was postponed due to Villa’s involvement in the Carabao Cup Final (Villa 1-2 Manchester City).

BETTING OUTLOOK

The betting outlook is a worry from a Villa perspective, with a home victory currently sitting at 2/1.

The draw is 12/5.

The visitors are the fancied side, with bookies pricing them at 13/10.

Betting Conclusion

Given the lockdown and relatively recent return to training for many sides, the form book should be given careful consideration.  Whilst Villa’s league form going into the lockdown collapsed, with 4-0 defeat to Leicester a particular low point, the side did put on a good show against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

Villa are also buoyed by the return of John McGinn.  The Scotish  is the engine to Villa’s otherwise lacklustre midfield and was a figure who was not expected to feature in this crucial run in due to injury.  Additionally, the break likely came at the right time (for a change), with Dean Smith desperately needing to re-group the side as it started to look like a boxer wobbling after a series of shock punches.

For this reason, I’d certainly scope the market for some betting offers, as Villa, with home advantage and a current league position that masks early season qualities, are being too readily written off in the mainstream press.  Indeed, given that ten games remain (30 points!), it seems hard to comprehend that Villa have been given a 73% chance of relegation.

PREDICTED TEAM

Villa’s predicted starting XI to face Sheffield United at Villa Park:

Goalkeeper:

Nyland

Defence:

Targett

Engels

Mings

Guilbert

Midfield:

Nakamba

McGinn

Luiz

Grealish

El-Ghazi

Striker:

Samatta

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FAROE FUN

We’ve been following the exploits of Faroe Island’s Premier League side AB-Argir during lockdown.  They play in claret and blue – learn more about them and follow their progress in our dedicated AB Micro-blog.

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