Aston Villa finally kick off their 2020-21 Premier League campaign as they welcome Sheffield United to Villa Park in the opening Monday Night Football clash.
Villa can climb into the top ten with victory, whereas Sheffield Utd are looking to leapfrog their hosts with a win, although a three goal winning margin is required to climb into the top ten.
Villa have no fresh injury concerns as Bjorn Engels (quad) remains absent alongside Tom Heaton and Wesley are still both recovering from knee injuries.
Sheffield Utd will be without Lys Mousset after the Frenchman needed surgery on a toe ligament injury.
Goalkeeper, Simon Moore is unlikely to feature as he continues his recovery from a broken finger.
- Aston Villa have won just one of their last five meetings against Sheffield United (W1, D2, L2).
- Sheffield Utd are unbeaten in their last four trips to Villa Park in all competitions (W1, D3).
- Neither team have managed to score a penalty in eight previous Premier League meetings, with Villa winning one spot-kick which they missed to Blades’ zero.
- Villa are unbeaten in three of their last five opening home matches to a new league season (W2, D1, L2).
- Sheffield Utd are winless in their last eight opening away league matches to a new season (D2, L6).
Following the ‘ghost goal’ controversy of last season which ultimately proved enough for Villa to snatch a point that contributed to their survival and sent the Blades spiralling in a loss of form, this could very well get interesting because both teams do have points to prove.
Villa begun slowly in their first game back after the break with a poorly conceded goal against Burton in the Carabao Cup but produced a superb attacking fightback which is definitely more promising than they were for much of last season, although they will have to step it up because the Blades will be a tougher team to beat if concede early.
Sheffield Utd meanwhile made a rough start against Wolves which did the damage but once they got going, they looked as strong going forward as they were when at their best last season and carried that into Thursday’s 1-1 cup draw at Burnley, despite unluckily losing on penalties.
I am therefore expecting a scrappy game between two solid teams but the first goal will be key and I fancy the Blades to get it and go on to win because they will be pumped up for this game, after the injustice of their last meeting, although it will be a tough battle.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Sheffield United
Result: Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United