Aston Villa vs Sheffield United | Monday 22nd September 2020, 18:00 | Sky Sports
Aston Villa's season commences on Monday as they welcome Sheffield United to Villa Park. Despite the Blades already playing a game, defeat at home to Wolves means that both sides will be looking to secure the first points of their respective 2020/21 Premier League campaigns.
Dean Smith's side may be fortunate to still be amongst the English elite; beating the drop last season by just a point thanks to lackadaisical operator at Stockley Park last time these sides met. However, the ex-Brentford man has not rested on his laurels during his time off.
This week Villa secured the signature of former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who will provide cover for injured Tom Heaton. Smith has also laced his side with two of the Championships outstanding performers of last season; the league’s second top goalscorer in Ollie Watkins and converted full back Matty Cash. Hopefully the duo will shoulder some of the responsibility pinned on skipper Jack Grealish.
Sheffield United have also invested well as Chris Wilder looks to build on the Blades top half finish last season. They have signed England U21 goalkeeper Aaron Ramesdale – looking to fill the vacancy left by Dean Henderson – as well as adding cover at wing-back by bringing in the highly-rated duo of Maxe Lowe and Jayden Bogle from Derby.
Wilder is no stranger to coy antics in the window and the acquisitions of highly-rated youngsters Ethan Ampadu, 19, and Oliver Burke, 23, may prove to be just that. Both struggled for regular first team action last season but if there is a man who can unlock their potential its the Sheff Utd gaffer.
Rumour has it the Blades are also trying to pry highly regarded youngster Rhian Brewster away from Merseyside.
Both sides were in EFL Cup action midweek. Smith handed a debut to Watkins, who notched his first goal for the club and came through unscathed which should mean he will get his Premier League debut here. Martinez is also in line for as start as Heaton is unfit in an expected line-up that follows; Martinez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash; Hourihane, Luiz, McGinn; Grealish, Watkins, Trezeguet.
Wilder handed debuts to Ampadu, Bogle and Lowe in their defeat to Burnley, however, I doubt any will be starting at Villa Park. Sander Berge and David McGoldrick were only fit enough for spots on the bench in the Blades opener but having started midweek they should be ready to do the same on Monday in a team as follows; Ramesdale; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Boldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrick.
John Egan 1+ Shot (11/10 SkyBet)
I was surprised to see that this is odds-against given that he has registered a shot in every appearance he has made this season both for Sheffield United and Ireland (3 in 3). Last season he had at least one shot in 12 of his last 18 appearances, registering 18 shots in total.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United – John Egan 1+ Shot (11/10 SkyBet)