Two sides looking to bounce back from midweek defeats meet in Saturday’s late kick-off in the Premier League. We look ahead to the game with our Sheffield United vs Aston Villa prediction and preview.
Sheffield United vs Aston Villa Stats: The Quick Hits
- Aston Villa are predicted to get back to winning ways on Saturday, beating Sheffield United in 53.8% of the Opta supercomputer’s match simulations.
- Sheffield United have just 10 points after 22 Premier League games, the Blades’ second-worst tally at this stage of a season in the top four tiers (after six at this stage in 1975-76).
- Ollie Watkins has 10 league goals in 2023-24, becoming the first Englishman to reach double figures in his first four top-flight seasons since Robbie Fowler (1993-94 to 1996-97).
Saturday’s late kick-off in the Premier League features two sides with very different ambitions in Sheffield United and Aston Villa, but both will be desperate to bounce back following dispiriting midweek defeats.
Sheffield United are running out of time if they are to mount any sort of push to preserve their top-flight status, with the Opta supercomputer giving them just a 1.0% chance of avoiding the drop following Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace, as Luton Town’s incredible 4-0 rout of Brighton and Hove Albion left the Blades nine points adrift of safety.
Chris Wilder’s men twice took the lead at Selhurst Park through Ben Brereton Díaz and James McAtee, but Palace’s quality eventually told as three terrific finishes – two from Eberechi Eze and one from Michael Olise – propelled them to victory.
Sheffield United’s tally of just 10 points from 22 Premier League games is their second-worst at this stage of a season in English football’s top four tiers, only collecting fewer in 1975-76 when they had six points from their first 22 matches and went on to finish bottom of the top flight.
In the Premier League era, only three teams have previously accumulated 10 points or fewer after 22 games, and they all went on to finish bottom: Bolton Wanderers in 1995-96 (10), Sunderland in 2005-06 (9) and Derby County in 2007-08 (7).
The Blades’ performances have picked up since Wilder returned to the club in December, but their results are yet to catch up. Indeed, across Wilder’s first 35 games as a Premier League manager, his Sheffield United side earned 54 points (W14 D12 L9). In his last 39, they have earned just 19 points (W5 D4 L30), shipping 66 goals and only netting 25.
Oli McBurnie has done his best to improve their attacking output, scoring in each of his last four league games at Bramall Lane, but Sheffield United have not won any of those matches (one draw, three losses). The last Blades player to score in five consecutive home league games was David McGoldrick in 2018-19, but no player has ever achieved that feat for the club in the Premier League.
McBurnie should lead the line again on Saturday, with Rhian Brewster still suspended following his red card in the 2-2 draw against West Ham. Tom Davies is close to returning after three months out with a knee injury, but Wilder may be forced into a change of goalkeeper after new arrival Ivo Grbić suffered a suspected concussion on Tuesday, putting Wes Foderingham in line to start.
Villa, meanwhile, lost ground on their rivals at the summit with a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle United on Tuesday, their first home loss in the Premier League since last February (4-2 vs Arsenal). Unai Emery’s men produced a disjointed performance, with Ollie Watkins’ second-half strike a mere consolation after Fabian Schär scored twice and Álex Moreno put through his own net.
Having been tipped for a surprise title tilt, Villa may now be fretting about their hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification after enduring something of a drop-off. They have only taken five points from their last five Premier League matches (one win, two draws, two defeats), having earned 13 from their previous five (four wins, one draw).
Following Tuesday’s loss, they have also conceded three goals in two of their last four league games, also doing so in a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Boxing Day, as many times as in their previous 33 outings.
They will again have to make do without two key defenders, with Saturday’s game likely to come too soon for injured duo Pau Torres and Lucas Digne. Leon Bailey is pushing for a start following a lively cameo against Newcastle.
Bailey came off the bench to assist Watkins for Villa’s goal on Tuesday, and that effort was the striker’s 50th in the Premier League. With 10 goals to date in 2023-24, Watkins has reached double figures in each of his first four top-flight seasons, becoming the first Englishman to achieve that feat since Liverpool great Robbie Fowler (1993-94 to 1996-97).
Sheffield United vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
These teams met just five matchdays ago as Sheffield United went agonisingly close to a shock win at Villa Park. Cameron Archer put the Blades ahead late on, only for Nicolò Zaniolo to salvage a 1-1 draw for Villa in stoppage time.
Villa have lost just two of their 11 Premier League games against Sheffield United (six wins, three draws), but those defeats have come on each of their last two visits to Bramall Lane.
Indeed, the Blades have won their last three home league matches against Villa since suffering a 1-0 defeat in the Championship in January 2018. Sheffield United triumphed 1-0 with 10 men when Villa last visited Bramall Lane in March 2021, holding on after Phil Jagielka’s red card as McGoldrick’s first-half strike proved decisive.
Villa’s patchy away record could offer Sheffield United hope, with Emery’s men only winning two of their last seven league games on the road (three draws, two defeats).
Sheffield United have collected eight of their 10 points at Bramall Lane this season, managing victories over Wolves and Brentford as well as draws with Everton and West Ham. However, only Burnley (four) have collected fewer home points in the Premier League this term.
Saturday’s hosts are winless in six league games since overcoming Brentford in early December (two draws, four defeats), and they may not be able to rely on their backline to frustrate Villa.
The Blades have only kept one clean sheet in Premier League action this season, the fewest of any side, while they have also shipped 54 goals this term. That is the second most ever conceded at this stage of a Premier League campaign, after Barnsley shipped 57 in 1997-98.
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, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides:
Sheffield United vs Aston Villa Prediction
Emery will demand a reaction after Villa turned in one of their worst performances of the season on Tuesday, and the Opta supercomputer expects him to get one.
Across 10,000 match simulations conducted by the supercomputer, Villa triumph in 53.8%. Sheffield United are given just a 19.6% chance of victory, with 26.6% of scenarios seeing the points shared.
Villa’s defeat to Newcastle saw their title hopes drop to just 0.1% after Wednesday’s fixtures, but they still secure a top-four finish in 50.2% of our season simulations.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are now assigned a 70.2% chance of finishing bottom – no side is given a higher probability of finishing in a single position across the entire Premier League.