EFL Championship Betting Preview: Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United – Friday, Feb. 8, 2019
Matchup at a Glance
When: Friday, February 8, 2019, at 02:45 PM
Where: Villa Park, Birmingham, England.
Odds: Aston Villa +156, Draw +236, Sheffield United +154 @ MyBookie
Game week 31 of the English Football Championship is set to kick-off on Friday night (local time) when Aston Villa take on Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham.
After a goalless draw at Reading last time out, the Villans are now four points behind sixth Bristol City who also have one more match to play.
However, there still is plenty of time ahead and if Aston Villa manages to show consistency in the remaining weeks of the season, they surely have the ability to claim one of the playoff berths.
Sheffield United have returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers and they've climbed up to third, sitting just three points behind both leaders Norwich City and Leeds United. Anyway, they also need to be more consistent which is not so easy in a competitive soccer league where you must play 46 games per season.
Head-to-Head Stats (H2H)
Sheffield United were efficient to win 4-1 their last clash against Aston Villa at Bramall Lane which was their first league success over the Birmingham outfit since December 1991. Four different players scored to put Sheffield United 4-0 ahead until the 49th minute – Jack O'Connell, Mark Duffy, Oliver Norwood, and Billy Sharp, while Anwar El Ghazi scored a consolation goal for Aston Villa in the 61st minute.
The Blades have won twice when these two teams met in the FA Cup over that period whereas Aston Villa were dominant in the league (EPL or Championship) – winning six and drawing three of their previous nine games. Furthermore, Aston Villa are unbeaten in their past 11 home league games against the Blades. They lost 2-0 to Sheffield United in the English Football League (top flight) in January 1966.
Aston Villa – Team News
Aston Villa’s (10 wins, 13 draws, 7 losses) aspirations of a play-off place suffered another setback as they took just a point from their visit to relegation-threatened Reading. Although it was Villa’s first goalless draw this season, yet it was their seventh stalemate in their last twelve Championship matches – 3 wins and 2 defeats over that period.
Manager Dean Smith and his assistant John Terry will be lucky to have defender Tyrone Mings in contention after he stood on Reading striker Nelson Oliveira's head after a tussle for the ball, leaving him with extensive cuts and a broken nose. This required surgery and stitches to correct the problem.
BBC Sport reported that The FA (Football Association) have stated Mings will face no retrospective action as the incident was adjudged accidental by referee Geoff Eltringham. Rules state that The FA cannot take post-match action if the ref did not punish Mings during the match.
Mings, who joined Aston Villa on loan from AFC Bournemouth for the rest of the season, made his debut for the Birmingham club and replaced James Chester, who received a “weekend off” against Reading, but the Wales international should be fit to start here.
It's yet to be seen whether Smith plans to stick with the center-back duo James Chester and Tommy Elphick, or either of them will be replaced by Tyrone Mings. Elphick has been recalled by his season-long loan at Hull City in end of December and the 31-year-old defender does well ever since.
The Elphick-Mings duo, who know each other from their time at Bournemouth, were calm, confident and assured in the heart of the defense during the goalless match with Reading. Dean Smith highlighted their performance as the one major positive from a disappointing draw at the Madejski Stadium.
Orjan Nyland, Axel Tuanzebe, Henri Lansbury, Andre Green and Jack Grealish are other absentees for the Villans. With the Norway goalkeeper Orjan Nyland expected to miss out the remainder of the campaign through injury, Lovre Kalinic, who recently arrived from Belgian Gent, will play a key role for Aston Villa's hope. The Croatia goalkeeper finally kept a clean sheet which should boost his confidence.
With Axel Tuanzebe's anticipated return in around mid-March, Smith doesn't have many options to fill his back four so Alan Hutton and Neil Taylor should both play wide.
Jack Grealish, who is out since early December, could be back by the end of this month. His return would be a timely boost for Villa's promotion challenge, who are four points off the playoffs with 16 games of the season to go.
Mile Jedinak has been limited to a substitute role of late, but the Australian veteran is in contention to replace Glenn Whelan in the defensive midfield position. Winter signing Tom Carroll (on loan from Swansea City) made his debut from the bench against Reading and the 26 years old Englishman gives Dean Smith more options in midfield.
Tammy Abraham is under the spotlights as the 21-year-old graduate of Chelsea's youth academy enjoys a remarkable spell at Villa Park. He has scored 19 goals in 24 Championship appearances and has recently turned down a loan move to Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers to stay and chase promotion with Aston Villa.
Abraham has already scored five home goals for the Birmingham outfit in 2019, and 15 of his season tally of 19 Championship goals have come at Villa Park. He has also netted 12 goals in his past seven home league appearances for the Villans.
Sheffield United – Team News
The Blades (16 wins, 6 draws, 8 losses) scored two second-half goals to secure a comfortable 2-0 home win over Bolton last weekend, boosting their hopes of direct promotion. David McGoldrick opened the score with his 11th goal of the season, while Billy Sharp wrapped up Sheffield United’s win with a header, securing his 20th (19th in the Championship) goal of the season.
Chris Wilder's men could go top of the table, until Saturday afternoon at least, if they claim another victory here. However, as already highlighted, they have not won a league match at Villa Park since 1966 and they must work hard if they want to end that negative record.
Having all key players in contention, Chris Wilder can name his best XI which is his biggest advantage to Villa's boss Dean Smith. The Sheffield United boss has a decision to make between Kieran Dowell and Mark Duffy in behind the center-forward duo Sharp-McGoldrick, but it is the latter who is likely to keep his starting spot. Indeed, Wilder shouldn't be willing to apply any changes to the squad that beat Bolton.
Whereas top scorer Billy Sharp has scored with six of his past 10 shots in the Championship, his partner David McGoldrick has been involved in seven goals (five goals, two assists) in his past six league starts.
Possible Starting Lineups of Aston Villa and Sheffield United
Aston Villa: Lovre Kalinic – Neil Taylor, Tyrone Mings, Tommy Elphick, Alan Hutton – Glenn Whelan – Anwar El Ghazi, John McGinn, Conor Hourihane, Albert Adomah – Tammy Abraham. (4-1-4-1)
Sheffield United: Dean Henderson – Chris Basham, John Egan, Jack O'Connell – Enda Stevens, Oliver Norwood, John Fleck, George Baldock – Mark Duffy – David McGoldrick, Billy Sharp. (3-4-1-2)
Bet On Goals at Villa Park
Aston Villa should feel somehow lucky to head into the weekend in 10th place, just four points off the play-off zone, despite a run of just one win in six games.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, will fancy their chances of promotion with Leeds United's form starting to crumble, now is the time for the Blades to pounce.
Both sides certainly seem to apply pressure as the game comes to a close, with Sheffield United scoring almost half their goals this season in the final thirty minutes of play (23 out of 50). Villa have also scored 23 of their 53 goals in the closing third. Thus we should expect a really balanced and unpredictable matchup.
Whatever happens at Villa Park we should expect goals. Villa have conceded at least one goal in 80% of their home league matches, seeing over 2.5 goals in their last seven Championship home games.
Besides, Aston Villa have found the back of the net in each of their past 27 home games in the league, which is their longest scoring streak since a run of 33 which ended in December 1983.
Meanwhile, eight of the last nine meetings (in all competitions) between Aston Villa and Sheffield United have ended with Over 2.5 Goals.