Mark Lawrenson reveals why Sheffield United aren't 'favourites' for Aston Villa clash and makes first post-lockdown scoreline prediction
A huge global audience will tune in to watch Sheffield United and Aston Villa in action on Wednesday evening, as the encounter at Villa Park marks the resumption of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
Football in England has been lying dormant for three months during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, but following a rigorous testing regime, the top two tiers of the game are set to return this week.
Writing his weekly predictions piece for BBC Sport, pundit Mark Lawrenson turned his attention to tomorrow evening's clash between the Villains and the Blades, and picked a 1-1 draw as the final score.
Justifying his choice, Lawro claimed: "It is obvious where Villa need to improve if they are going to climb out of the bottom three because, defensively, they have been a nightmare.
"They have made a lot of individual mistakes and have conceded an average of two goals a game in the Premier League this season, which means they usually need to score at least three to win. If that is the case, you are not going to get very far.
"This is a chance for them to put that behind them, though. They were on a run of four straight league defeats when the season stopped, but it won't feel like that because it is so long ago that they last played - 100 days, exactly, since they lost 4-0 at Leicester on 9 March."
The 63-year-old continued: "They will not have turned into world-beaters overnight but I have heard Jack Grealish talking about how they are raring to go, and I can believe it. It is a fresh start for them, and a chance to cut those errors out.
"In normal circumstances, Sheffield United would be the favourites here because of the season they have had, but both teams will feel like guinea pigs because no-one knows quite what to expect."
A win for the Blades will pile the pressure on the likes of Wolves, Spurs and Arsenal, as United continue their push to play European football next season.
Lawro concluded: "You can guarantee every other Premier League team will be watching both of Wednesday's games, seeing if they can learn anything that they can use themselves."