New look Villa side kick off their season against Sheffield United
Aston Villa to win 1-0
Although it was Aston Villa who struggled into 17th place last season, with Sheffield United placing 9th, there seems to be more concern over United this year considering their poor run of form.
Since football returned after the Covid lockdown, The Blades lost 6 times, winning only 3. They then lost again on the opening match of the season to Wolves.
On the other hand, Villa ended last season more positively – undefeated in their final four matches.
In addition, they’ve secured best player Jack Grealish on a new contract as well as signing striker Ollie Watkins after a great season in the Championship.
There is a feeling that Villa could take advantage of some positive momentum this weekend.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 11th
Reasons to be cheerful:
Best player Jack Grealish has signed a new contract
Good business in the transfer market
Reasons to be fearful:
No guarantee that new signings will settle quickly
Sheffield United will want to hit back after defeat last weekend
It all counts, as they say. Villa were just one goal away from relegation last season, but by surviving they’ve now given themselves a platform to build on this year.
Any doubt around keeping Grealish has disappeared after he signed a new long-term deal last week. They’ve also strengthened in key areas, adding Watkins upfront after he scored 26 goals for Brentford last year.
Right-back Cash, goalkeeper Martinez and winger Traore have all been added to what could be a new look side this year.
There are still plenty of questions they must answer on the pitch, especially how their new players will gel together. But there is certainly more optimism around the team this season.
Sheffield United are not in great form and Villa will look to take advantage of that this weekend.
Star Man – Jack Grealish
A career-best 10 goals last season. After signing a new contract, more will be expected this season.
Predicted 2020/21 finish: 18th
Reasons to be cheerful
Manager Chris Wilder is experienced at getting best from his players
Were tough to beat last season
Reasons to be fearful
Lack of goalscoring options
Could be in for a tough season
To predict that a team which finished 9th last season would this season be in a relegation fight is bold, however it is becoming clear that The Blades are going to struggle.
They ended the last campaign in poor fashion, dropping from 5th place to 9th after a string of poor results. Their opening defeat against Wolves showed that scoring goals will be a problem for them this season.
Last year, their top scorer, Oli McBurnie registered only 6 goals as Sheffield United were one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. Their defence was solid for the early part of the campaign but became leakier as it went on.
If this continues this season, they could find themselves in a relegation battle before long.
They will want to find their first points of the season against Villa but will likely find it difficult.
Star Man – Oli McBurnie
Needs to find the goal with more frequency this season.
Villa will look to capitalise on Sheffield United’s poor form
Grealish will be a key figure and will likely score or assist
Ollie Watkins will aim to score on debut
If Villa are to finish higher in the table this season, they must learn to win these types of games, especially at home.
They have a good goalkeeper, a proven goalscorer and a squad with more depth this time around.
Sheffield United must increase the number of chances in front of goal. It is unlikely they can finish in the top half of the league for a second season running with their top scorer only netting 6 times.
Villa could seal all three points if they are positive this weekend.
Aston Villa to win 1-0