Aston Villa vs Sheffield UnitedEnglish Premier League, KO: 18:00 Jun 17, 2020, Villa Park
ALL eyes will be on a deserted Villa Park when the Premier League makes its long-awaited return from the coronavirus lockdown.
Never has a match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United attracted so much attention, with Villa boss Dean Smith admitting the eyes of the world will be on two clubs who were in the Championship last season.
While the Blades are dreaming of a shock European slot in their first season back in the top flight, Villa are fighting for their lives to avoid dropping back into the second tier.
The long break probably came at a good time for Smith's side as they looked to be tired and low on confidence after doubling their survival scrap with a run to the League Cup Final.
Key man John McGinn has also recovered from his broken ankle during lockdown and talisman Jack Grealish will relish having someone beside him to carry the burden in midfield.
Villa sit second bottom of the Premier League but this is their game in hand from the Wembley loss to Manchester City and a win would take them above Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham.
In contrast, Sheffield United would have been devastated when football ground to a halt as they had heaps of momentum and were a side playing with panache and confidence.
Chris Wilder's men sit seventh going into restart and are just five points off a dream Champions League place so they will be looking to pick up where they left off.
How the bookies view it
Aston Villa probably wouldn't have been as big as 49/20 with Unibet had this game been played in front of a partisan crowd. But away wins have increased behind closed doors in Germany and that's probably why Sheffield United are favourites here, a best 13/10 with the same firm.
The draw is 12/5 with Sportingbet and I wouldn't be too surprised if this one ended level.
Recent head to head
Sheffield United are unbeaten in their last three games against Aston Villa and triumphed 2-0 at Bramall Lane earlier in the season thanks to a John Fleck double (below).
They also beat Villa 4-1 at home in the Championship last season with the clash in Birmingham ending in a thrilling 3-3 draw. The Blades threw away a 3-0 lead in that game but are unbeaten in their last three visits to Villa Park since losing 3-0 there in 2007.
Players to watch
January signing Mbwana Samatta was showing signs of sparking to life for Villa before lockdown, with two goals in five games, and always impressed me in Europe for old club Genk.
He's 11/4 with 888Sport in the anytime scorer market and that looks overpriced for someone who should lead the line for Smith's side.
Wilder (below) has been chopping and changing his strikers this season so it's hard to predict who will start up front for Sheffield United. It might be safer to go for a midfielder with Fleck and John Lundstram both 4/1 for a goal at Bet365.
Anything else catch the eye?
Both teams to score has come up in five of the last seven meetings between these sides. It didn't in their last encounter but that was only because Villa captain Grealish saw his spot-kick come crashing back off the bar.
SportNation price both teams to score at 13/15 here and I'll have a nibble at that, even though Villa let me down by drawing a blank against Leicester when I backed the same bet in their final game before lockdown.
Sheffield United play with plenty of width so I like the look of the 21/20 William Hill are offering on the Blades winning over one corner in each half.
This English Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United will be played on Jun 17, 2020 and kick off at 18:00. Check below for our tipsters best Aston Villa vs Sheffield United prediction.