Teams, the referee, player to watch: The facts and figures behind Sheffield United's clash with Aston Villa
As Sheffield United and Aston Villa, two of the three clubs promoted from the Championship last season, prepare to meet in the Premier League, The Star’s James Shield highlights some of the facts, figures and major players likely to shape this match at Bramall Lane.
The duel between Scotland team mates John Fleck and John McGinn will dominate conversations north of the border, with the two seemingly vying for the same position in Steve Clarke’s midfield ahead of the forthcoming European Championship play-offs. But Sheffield United’s plan to win this match will inevitably revolve around preventing Jack Grealish from displaying the type of form which many feel should already have earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The first meeting between the two clubs since February, neither Chris Wilder nor Dean Smith will be hoping this match at Bramall Lane proves as eventful - or as nerve-wracking - as that then Championship clash. Then, Wilder’s Sheffield United side raced into a 3-0 lead in the West Midlands, with captain Billy Sharp scoring once in the first-half and twice early in the second. When Tyrone Mings, who will miss the trip to South Yorkshire through injury, netted with only eight minutes of normal time remaining, it proved to be the start of a remarkable comeback with Tammy Abrahams, now back at Chelsea, and Andre Green securing a draw for the hosts deep into added time.
PROBABLE TEAMS: Sheffield United: Dean Henderson, Chris Basham, John Egan, Jack O’Connell, Enda Stevens, George Baldock, Oliver Norwood, John Fleck, John Lundstram, Lys Mousset, David McGoldrick. Aston Villa: Tom Heaton, Ezri Konsa, Bjorn Engels, Ahmed Elmohamady, Matt Targett, Mahmoud Hassan, John McGinn, Anwar El Ghazi, Douglas Luiz, Jack Grealish, Wesley da Silva.
THE REFEREE: Peter Bankes, who averages 4.45 cautions per game so far this season, will be taking charge of his fourth Premier League fixture since August tomorrow. Jarred Gillett and Stuart Burt will oversee the fixture from the VAR suite at Stockley Park while Peter Kirkup and Nick Hopton are scheduled to assist inside the stadium, alongside fourth official John Busby.