Unai Emery’s men will look to continue their excellent Premier League start at Villa Park on Friday. We look ahead with our data-powered Aston Villa vs Sheffield United prediction and preview.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Stats: The Quick Hits
- Aston Villa are huge favourites to record yet another home victory, winning 62.3% of the Opta supercomputer’s 10,000 simulations.
- Ollie Watkins has scored 49 Premier League goals for Villa and could become only the third player to hit 50 in the competition for the club after Gabriel Agbonlahor (74) and Dwight Yorke (60).
- Sheffield United have had the fewest shots (142) and the lowest xG (13) of any Premier League side so far this season.
Aston Villa will aim to maintain their unlikely Premier League title charge when they host struggling Sheffield United at Villa Park on Friday.
12 wins from their opening 17 games has Unai Emery’s men heading into Matchday 18 third in the league table, just a point behind leaders Arsenal.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are propping up the division with just eight points from their 17 matches, already six points off safety.
Villa’s excellent home form has spearheaded their success, winning each of their last 15 Premier League home games.
It’s the longest such run in their league history, while only three sides have won more consecutively at home in the Premier League – Liverpool (24 between 2019 and 2020), Manchester City (20 between 2011 and 2012) and Manchester United (19 between 2010 and 2011).
Emery has had a remarkable impact at Villa Park since taking over in October 2022, with the Villans winning 25 Premier League games in 2023, their most top-flight wins in a single calendar year in their history. Only Man City (87) have won more points in the Premier League in 2023 than Villa (81).
Ollie Watkins has also been a huge factor in Villa’s sublime form, and he needs only one goal to make it 10+ goals in each of his first four Premier League seasons. The Villa frontman could be the first Englishman to achieve that feat since Robbie Fowler between 1993-94 and 1996-97.
Watkins has nine goals this season and has 10+ goals in all three seasons for Villa so far – the last player to score 10+ goals in four consecutive top-flight seasons for the club was Peter Withe (1980-81 to 1984-85).
Sheffield United already have it all to do if they are to preserve their top-flight status after winning promotion last term. As it stands, their 8.4 shots per game is the lowest on record (since 1997-98) of any side in a single Premier League campaign.
The Blades have won just two of their last 33 Premier League away games (four draws, 27 defeats), winning 2-1 at Man Utd in January 2021 and 1-0 at Everton in May 2021. They’re the only Premier League side without a win on the road so far this season (one draw, seven losses).
Villa have won their last two Premier League games played on a Friday, as many as they had in their first 12 such games (four draws, six defeats). They will be a little shorthanded for this week’s game, though, with a number of injuries to worry about.
In the 2-1 win at Brentford last time out, Boubacar Kamara was sent off late on and will therefore be suspended for Friday. Lucas Digne and Douglas Luiz will both return from one-game suspensions, though Pau Torres and Bertrand Traoré will miss out through injury.
Youri Tielemans could be fit for kick-off after missing the Brentford trip, but Emi Buendía and Tyrone Mings both remain long-term absentees from the lineup. Robin Olsen is also unavailable through injury.
Chris Wilder will be boosted by the return from suspension of Jack Robinson. However, Rhys Norrington-Davies, John Egan, Tom Davies, Daniel Jebbison and Chris Basham are not expected back until 2024. Rhian Brewster is also unavailable.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Head-to-Head
Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last 14 home league games against Sheffield United (eight wins, six draws) since losing 2-0 in January 1966.
Sheffield United have kept three clean sheets in their last four Premier League games against Aston Villa (two victories, one draw, one defeat), losing the other game 1-0 in September 2020.
The last meeting between the sides was back in March 2021, when David McGoldrick’s 31st-minute winner gave Sheffield United a 1-0 victory.
Villa are nine unbeaten in all competitions, winning seven of those outings, including eye-catching victories over Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal.
Sheffield United have won just two games all season, though both of those came in their last seven outings, beating Wolves and Brentford.
Villa have won their last five Premier League games against promoted sides, since a 3-0 loss at Fulham last season in what proved to be Steven Gerrard’s final game in charge. They last had a longer winning run vs promoted sides in the 1980-81 season, winning all six such matches in what was their last title-winning campaign.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in this Premier League match, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Ollie Watkins: 76.3 (out of 100)
Douglas Luiz: 75.2
John McGinn: 72.5
Ezri Konsa: 70.7
Emiliano Martínez: 70.4
Cameron Archer: 60.5
James McAtee: 50.9
Gustavo Hamer: 50.0
Wes Foderingham: 49.8
Luke Thomas: 48.7
These Opta Player Ratings also power our set of brand-new, free-to-play gaming experiences, which you can play on Opta Analyst all season long.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Prediction
Aston Villa are big favourites to pick up a 13th home win of the season in all competitions, coming out on top in 62.3% of the Opta supercomputer‘s 10,000 simulations conducted ahead of MD18.
Sheffield United badly need three points, and they come away with victory in just 14% of the supercomputer’s simulations. Even a draw would be a brilliant result for Wilder’s men, and the teams share the spoils 23.7% of the time.
Sheffield United are expected to drop into the Championship for next season, relegated in 93.28% of simulations ahead of MD18, the highest percentage in the Premier League. While they are predicted to finish bottom, Aston Villa’s estimated finish is now fourth, finishing in the Champions League places in 81.82% of simulations. They are even given an outside chance of winning the title, though their probability of 8.37% falls behind that of Man City (41.56%), Arsenal (26.41%) and Liverpool (23.08%).