The Premier League weekend continues on Friday night when top spot could change places as Aston Villa welcome struggling Sheffield United to a Villa Park which is likely to be packed with expectation with the home side looking to hit the summit.
The Blades go into the contest on bottom of the table but they would move up a couple of places if they can be the first team to go to Villa Park and come away with the three points this season. A Villa win could see them top of the table on Christmas Day so there is no shortage of incentives for both teams.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Friday Night Football programme which will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels. The show begins at 7pm and kick off is at 8pm.
Aston Villa are a welcome addition to the Premier League title race this season. If anyone was in any doubt over their title credentials then they have one of the best records in the Premier League in 2023 so it certainly isn’t a fluke. There is probably still a consensus that they won’t go the course and distance in the race, and that might prove to be true, but their fixtures for the next three months or so are very much favourable so expect the challenge to strengthen before it fades, if it does fade.
They have the chance to showcase their credentials once again here on a ground where they have won their last 15 league games and look as comfortable and confident as any team has been in home surroundings. Villa showed a different side to them last week when they came from behind to win at Brentford and you sense if they score an early goal here they could run riot, as they have done in 4-0, 6-1 and 4-1 wins over Everton, Brighton and West Ham respectively.
Sheffield United were the first to bite in terms of sacking the manager and hoping for that bounce to get them out of trouble. Chris Wilder came back to replace Paul Heckingbottom at Bramall Lane and has overseen three matches, 2-0 defeats at home to Liverpool and away to Chelsea, with a 1-0 win over Brentford in between. They have probably been more competitive under Wilder but there still looks to be a shortage of the quality that they need.
The big issue for Sheffield United is their struggle to score goals. They have just 12 of them in the 17 matches that they have played and only four of those have come on their travels, while in the eight games they have competed in away from home they have shipped 22. That is clearly a recipe which will send them to the Championship and they are going to need to offer up something we haven’t yet seen this term if they are to push Villa here.
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Aston Villa will have Douglas Luiz and Lucas Digne back from the suspensions that they served in the win over Brentford last week but Boubacar Kamara is now suspended. Youri Tielemans and Pau Torres are having their fitness monitored.
Sheffield United will be able to welcome Jack Robinson back from suspension but Chris Wilder will be without a number of players including Rhian Brewster, Chris Basham, John Egan and Tom Davies.
I’m a little surprised that Aston Villa are only giving up a 1.75 Asian line in this match. Prior to Manchester City and Arsenal heading to Villa Park and going down 1-0, with the former lucky to only lose 1-0, Aston Villa had won every other home match this term by more than a goal and I fully expect them to get back to winning by two or more against a Sheffield United side whose last five away defeats have all been by two or more goals.
Villa are rampant at home and with this being the Friday night game there is no real need for them to be easing off at any point, especially when top spot is on the line, so I think Sheffield United have their work cut out here. The one thing the Blades might have on their side is the pace of Cameron Archer against the high Villa line but even then Unai Emery will know all about the striker having sold him from the Villans in the summer. Villa look to be going from strength to strength to me and with an early goal they can run out very easy winners but even if the goal comes later in the piece I think they can add a second and get us some profit on this line.
Back Aston Villa (-1.75AH) to beat Sheffield United for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365