Two Premier League teams, eager to bounce back from recent losses, face off at Bramall Lane on Saturday, with bottom team Sheffield United hosting Aston Villa, who are eyeing a spot in the top four.
The Blades faced a 3-2 loss at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, while Villa lost 3-1 at home against Newcastle United the same night.
Sheffield United got off to a flying start against Palace when newcomer Ben Brereton Diaz scored just 20 seconds into the game.
The Chilean, who also scored on his debut against West Ham last week, became one of the few Blades players to score in his first two Premier League games for the club since Brian Deane in 1992.
James McAtee scored amidst two goals from Palace’s Eberechi Eze during a hectic first half-hour. However, Sheffield United left empty-handed as Michael Olise’s goal in the 67th minute sealed their 16th league defeat this season.
Chris Wilder praised his team’s effort post-match and pointed out that the exceptional skills of Eze and Olise can ruin any team’s strategy. Yet, the Blades are last in the league and eight points from safety, facing a crucial match against Luton Town soon.
Before that, they play Villa, a team they’ve beaten three times at home recently, scoring seven goals in total.
Wilder’s fourth match since his return was against Villa in December, ending in a 1-1 draw after a late equalizer by Nicolo Zaniolo.
Aston Villa returned home to a grand fireworks display for their first 2024 home game but lost 3-1 to Newcastle. Two goals from Fabian Schar and an own goal by Alex Moreno put Newcastle ahead. Ollie Watkins scored for Villa, but it wasn’t enough.
Unai Emery expressed frustration as Villa’s unbeaten home streak ended. They’ve now dropped to fifth place, eight points behind Liverpool.
Villa hopes to improve in the coming weeks with matches against lower-ranked teams. However, their mixed away record and past struggles against Sheffield could be challenging.
Sheffield United’s Chris Basham, John Egan, George Baldock, and Daniel Jebbison are out with injuries. Tom Davies and Max Lowe are close to returning but won’t play on Saturday.
Ivo Grbic might miss the game due to a head injury, with Wes Foderingham possibly stepping in. Rhian Brewster is suspended, but there are several forwards available.
Aston Villa will miss Emiliano Buendia and Tyrone Mings due to knee injuries. Pau Torres, Lucas Digne, and Jhon Duran hope to return later this month.
Bertrand Traore could play after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, but likely off the bench. Morgan Rogers might debut.
Jacob Ramsey is fit but may not start over John McGinn, Boubacar Kamara, or Douglas Luiz. Youri Tielemans could be replaced by either Nicolo Zaniolo or Leon Bailey.
Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Bogle, Ahmedhodzic, Robinson, Trusty;
McAtee, Hamer, Souza, Slimane, Brereton Diaz;
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Moreno;
Bailey, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn;
Prediction: Sheffield United 1-2 Aston Villa
Every match is crucial for Sheffield United, and their strong performance in the last game against Villa gives them hope.
However, Emery’s Villa is determined to bounce back and aim for the top four. We expect a motivated Villa to secure a win in South Yorkshire.