Aston Villa 0 Sheffield United 0 - the Premier League makes a subdued return

Villa Park before today's gameVilla Park before today's game
Villa Park before today's game
So here it is, 102 days after Sheffield United last played Premier League football, they are back at Villa Park to complete the season.
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As both side's game in hand, this is a huge occasion for European-chasing Sheffield United and relegation-threatened Aston Villa, even before considering it marks the return of English football after the coronavirus pandemic.

Victory for the Blades will move them into fifth in the Premier League, which could be enough to qualify them for next season's Champions League. They have never played in any European competition before.

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You can follow the game here, or follow @sturayner on Twitter for more updates.

8.21pm - Premier League statement

The Premier League later explained: “The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost. This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawkeye goal line technology system has been in operation.”

In the new normal, even the official statements contain new words.


A subdued resumption to the Premier League. The Blades were far from full throttle but they still should have won if goalline technology had been working. They go sixth with nine games to play and should be better for getting this out of the way.

7.10pm - Goalline technology

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We are told the goalline technology was not working, but is now. Not much consolation to a Sheffield United side who should be 1-0 up.


Aston Villa 0 Sheffield United 0:

Villa have had the better of the first half but can consider themselves very lucky indeed to go in goalless. The Blades stepped it up after the drinks break and those that can see replays seem convinced goalline technology did not do its job when Orjan Nyland carried an Oliver Norwood free-kick into his net.

In fairness, goalline technology is usually very reliable, but it seems to have let referee Michael Oliver down badly down there. The reaction of those in the ground is pretty stunned, but Chris Wilder's half-time team-talk should be straight-forward now.

6.48pm - controversy

Sheffield United thought they had taken the lead when Orjan Nyland appeared to carry an Oliver Norwood free-kick over his own goalline, but referee points to his arm to show the goalline technology believed the whole of the ball did not cross the line. A lucky escape for Villa there late in the half.

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Sheffield United's analysts are furious watching the replays but it remains 0-0.

6.25pm - Midway through the first half

A quarter of the game is gone so we're having our first drinks break and it's fair to say Villa have had the better of it but it remains 0-0.

Former Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane forced a good low save from Dean Henderson but centre-back Keinan Davis let the goalkeeper off the hook in the 11th minute when he put over a header that should at least have hit the target.

It was impossible to expect any team to hit the ground running, but Sheffield United need to move through the gears a bit.

6.05pm - Jack Robinson

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A decent start by Premier League debutant Jack Robinson. The centre-back won his first header, launched a long throw John Egan headed wide and cut out a clearance in the first five minutes. Before the Blades could get the ball away, Conor Hourihane forced a save from Dean Henderson.

5.55pm - Fresh start for Villa

After five straight defeats in all competitions dropped them into the relegation zone before the suspension of matches, tonight offers Aston Villa the chance for a much-needed reset. They have made six changes from their last game, the 4-0 defeat to Leicester City 100 days ago.

Most notable amongst them are the return of John McGinn from a fractured ankle, and a change of goalkeeper,. with Pepe Reina dropped to the bench and Orjan Nyland replacing him.

Sheffield United, by contrast, were high on confidence and in good form, losing just one of their last 10. They have been desperate to get back and will hope to pick up their rhythm as quickly as possible.

5.50pm - Injuries

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Chris Wilder has said he expects John Fleck to be fit for Sunday's trip to Newcastle United. He is less sure about Jack O'Connell.

5.30pm - Team news

The team news is in and it is going to be a huge night for Jack Robinson, the January signing from Nottingham Forest making his full Premier League debut on the left of a back four.

Jack O'Connell and John Fleck, two stalwarts of the side, picked up knocks in the friendlies to prepare for the resumption, and are both missing.

Although Fleck has been a huge figure this season, replacing him is rather more straight-forward, with Sander Berge coming into the side which beat Norwich City on March 7, the Blades' last game before the coronavirus pandemic.

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Aston Villa: Nyland; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett; Hourihane, Douglas Luiz; El Ghazi, McGinn, Grealish; Davis.

Substitutes: Taylor, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Baston, Samatta, Jota, El Mohamady, Reina, Vassilev.

Sheffield United: Henderson; Basham, Egan, J Robinson; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Berge, Stevens; McBurnie, Sharp.

Substitutes: Freeman, Jagielka, McGoldrick, Freeman, Mousset, Osborn, Clarke, Moore, Rodwell.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Ashington)

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