The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW30): Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
The first top-flight match in English football to take place in June since 1947 saw relegation-threatened Aston Villa take on Champions League chasing Sheffield United - with the presentation and occasion feeling alien to to the Premier League action that we last witnessed exactly 100 days ago.
Villa's speedy Forward, Keinan David was the first to go close for the home side, with his near-post header unable to test Dean Henderson in the opposition goal. Villa probed again around the 15-minute mark, though returning John McGinn's header from a whipped free-kick wasn't powerful enough to really test a rooted Henderson.
At the 35-minute mark, Sheffield United were growing in confidence in the game, though Kourtney Hause missed the target from a corner-kick. Five minutes before half-time it looked like the Hawkeye goal-line technology failed the away side when Ollie Norwood's deep cross was collected and fumbled by Ørjan Nyland's cross. Nyland fell into David as he stumbled and backwards into his own net, with the ball crossing the line without the goal being awarded.
Shortly after half-time Davis tested Henderson at his right-hand post with a fierce strike, but the Englishman saved well. Henderson came to the rescue again, this time saving well from a John McGinn curled effort at the edge of the box. There was a sustained period of nothingness until the first and second substitutes took place in the game.
The second-half literally ground to a halt as the 90-minute mark approached and after a slow end to the game, there was relief when the full-time whistle blew as a slog of a game drew to a close, meaning that the returning game of the Premier League after a 100-day hiatus is marred with controversy due to the Hawkeye drama surrounding Nyland's first-half error that should have seen Sheffield United take the lead.
Welcome back, we guess.
Man of the Match:
Dean Henderson (SHU) made 6 saves and kept Sheffield United alive in the game when Aston Villa mounted pressure on in large chunks of the game. Villa's lack of cutting edge turned out to be Henderson's gain as the Goalkeeper came away from the the with another glowing performance.
AVL 0-0 SHU - Insight and Analysis:
You could say that I've been struggling to adapt to the vast changes that the Premier League has had to enforce, not because I'm not for them, but because like many football fans that crave the beautiful game, for so many years we have been accustom to a particular presentation of the Premier League.
You're instantly met with changed attire, 'Black Lives Matters' naming across the back of every shirt, club banners spread across the bottom tier of Villa Park. substitutes and club officials spread out in the dugouts and stands. Fake crowd noise filled our coverage. Before a ball was even kicked every single player and the coaching staff all took a knee in solidarity for the BLM campaign. You can hear every word the coaching staff are screaming at their players. Ten minutes in after Keinan David sent a header over the bar, cameras cut to the fan-cams following at home. At the 23-minute mark there was a water break that broke up play. Not that we are complaining as the strong No Racism for Racism stand was very well done, but it is just feels different and alien when changing viewer habits, a month removed in the regular season, when you're used to a different product.
As for the spectacle itself, at the half-way stage of the game the decision to not award Sheffield United a goal for Nyland's mistake as he dragged the ball into his own net was a farce and not what the league needs after a long hiatus from action. Why go through all those safety cautions, just for the game's technology to fail you? We shouldn't be surprised though, VAR hasn't been an overtly positive addition in the way its been administered this season, so why would it get involved here when it's needed?
The second-half was a complete write-off, which makes this encounter all about the Hawkeye error and the pre-match kneel before kick-off. More of a statement than a game of football, and that's probably what was expected given that both teams aren't known for their goals or attacking play.
Venue: Villa Park
Manager: Dean Smith
GK: O. Nyland
DEF: E. Konsa (El Mohamady '76)
DEF: K. Hause
DEF: T. Mings
DEF: M. Targett
MID: J. McGinn (Nakamba '76)
MID: D. Luiz (Yellow)
MID: C. Hourihane
MID: M. El Ghazi (Trezeguet '69)
MID: J. Grealish
FOR: K. Davis (Samatta '69)
Reina, Taylor, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Borza, Samatta, Jota, El Mohamady, Vassilev
Manager: Chris Wilder
GK: D. Henderson
DEF: E. Stevens
DEF: J. Robinson
DEF: J. Egan
DEF: C. Basham
DEF: G. Baldock
MID: O. Norwood
MID: S. Berge (L. Freeman '69)
MID: J. Lundstram (Yellow)
FOR: O. McBurnie (Mousset '80)
FOR: B. Sharp (McGoldrick '69)
Jagielka, Rodwell, McGoldrick, Moore, L. Freeman, K. Freeman, Osborn, Clarke, Mousset
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