Two Premier League sides eager to bounce back from recent setbacks clash at Bramall Lane this Saturday, with Sheffield United, currently at the bottom of the table, welcoming Aston Villa, who are eyeing a top-four finish.
Sheffield United endured a 3-2 loss away to Crystal Palace midweek, while Aston Villa suffered a 3-1 defeat at home against Newcastle United on the same night.
The Blades, currently anchored at the bottom of the table, face a crucial juncture in their season, needing to spark a turnaround to avoid slipping further adrift. With a nine-point gap to safety and only 10 points garnered from 22 matches, the urgency to collect points is paramount.
Despite a promising win against Brentford in early December, they’ve struggled to capitalise on that momentum, enduring four defeats and two draws in their last five outings. Notably, one of those draws was against their upcoming opponents, Aston Villa.
Aston Villa maintain a strong position in the Premier League title race, although they assert their primary aim is securing a top-four finish. Currently occupying fifth place, they’re on par with fourth-placed Tottenham in both points and goal difference. However, their recent form has seen a dip, starting with a home draw against Sheffield United, which halted their winning streak. Villa have managed just one victory in their last five league fixtures, a stretch that includes a 3-1 loss to Newcastle in their most recent outing.
Sheffield United will see goalkeeper Wes Foderingham step in for Ivo Grbic, who sustained a concussion during Tuesday’s loss at Crystal Palace, Chris Wilder admitted in his pre-match press conference. Meanwhile, Ben Brereton Diaz is expected to overcome a tight hamstring in time for the match.
Additionally, Mason Holgate, who was signed on deadline day, is eligible to play. However, Rhian Brewster remains sidelined as he serves the final game of his three-match suspension.
Aston Villa may hand a debut to their new signing, Morgan Rogers. However, Pau Torres, Lucas Digne, Tyrone Mings, Emi Buendia, and Jhon Duran are still unavailable for selection due to injury.
Sheffield United boast a strong record at home against Aston Villa, having emerged victorious in their last three league encounters. This streak dates back to January 2018, when they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Championship.
Sheffield United’s current tally of just 10 points after 22 matches in the Premier League puts them in rare company. They are only the fourth team in Premier League history to have accumulated 10 or fewer points at this stage of the season. The previous instances include Bolton Wanderers in 1995/96 (10 points), Sunderland in 2005/06 (nine points), and Derby County in 2007/08 (seven points). Notably, all three of these teams finished bottom of the division at the end of their respective seasons.
Sheffield United’s defensive struggles in the Premier League this season are evident, as they have managed to keep just one clean sheet, the fewest of any team in the league. Additionally, they have conceded a staggering 54 goals, the highest tally in the league. This defensive frailty is highlighted by the fact that only Barnsley in the 1997/98 season have conceded more goals at this stage of a Premier League campaign, with 57 goals conceded.
Under Unai Emery, Aston Villa have demonstrated a strong record against promoted sides in the Premier League, securing victory in six out of seven encounters. However, the exception to this trend was a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United in the reverse fixture in December.