Game | #5579 |
Season | 2019-20 |
Matchday | #37 |
League Game | #29 |
Manager Game | #75 |
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Premier League | Home | Sheffield United | Villa Park | Behind closed doors |
Goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler's pre match view of a behind closed doors Villa Park 17th June 2020
Game Summary |
Manager | Dean Smith |
KO | 18.00 |
Referee | Michael Oliver |
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 0-0 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | LLLLD |
League Position | 19th | - |
Team News |
Super John McGinn returns to make his first start for Villa since 21st December.
Mbwana Samatta, Marvelous Nakamba and Ahmed Elmohamady drop to the bench along with Pepe Reina who is replaced between the sticks by Ørjan Nyland.
Björn Engels and Frédéric Guilbert drop out of the starting line up and squad altogether, whilst Drinkwater also drops from the squad.
Coming in are McGinn, Keinan Davis (for his first league start of the season and first ever Premier League start), Anwar El Ghazi, Kortney Hause and Ezri Konsa.
Indiana Vassilev makes the subs bench for the first time in 7 games whilst Jota returns to the squad for the first time in 10.
Nine players are permitted on the substitute bench with up to 5 substitutions permiited within the match, up from 7 and 3 respectively.
Line Up |
GK Ørjan Nyland |
CB Ezri Konsa | SUB OFF | 76' |
CB Tyrone Mings |
CB Kortney Hause |
LB Matt Targett |
M John McGinn | SUB OFF | 76' |
M Douglas Luiz | BOOKED | 27' |
M Jack Grealish |
M Conor Hourihane |
W Anwar El Ghazi | SUB OFF | 69' |
CF Keinan Davis | SUB OFF | 69' |
CF Mbwana Samatta | for CF Keinan Davis | 69' |
W Trézéguet | for W Anwar El Ghazi | 69' |
M Marvelous Nakamba | for M John McGinn | 76' |
RB Ahmed Elmohamady | for CB Ezri Konsa | 76' |
Unused Substitutes |
GK Pepe Reina |
LB Neil Taylor |
CF Borja Bastón |
W Jota |
W Indiana Vassilev |
Yellow | M Douglas Luiz | 27' |
Match Stats |
Possession F | 45
Possession A | 55
Shots F | 14
Shots A | 5
Shots on Target F | 6
Shots on Target A | 1
Corners F | 12
Corners A | 4
Fouls F | 11
Fouls A | 14
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 25.36 |
Substitute Average Age | 28.11 |
Oldest Player | Ørjan Nyland | 29.79 |
Oldest Player (Substitute) | Ørjan Nyland | 32.79 |
Youngest Player | Douglas Luiz | 22.12 |
Not Selected |
CF Cameron Archer |
GK Matija Šarkić
Injury | 7 |
GK Jed Steer | Hamstring 10 Nov - Unknown |
GK Tom Heaton | Knee, ACL 1 Jan - 2020-21 |
CF Wesley | Knee, ACL 1 Jan - 2020-21 |
CB Björn Engels | Achilles 17 Jun - Mid July |
RB Frédéric Guilbert | Knee, Achilles 17 Jun - Early July |
M Henri Lansbury | Unknown 17 Jun - Early July |
M Danny Drinkwater | Unknown 17 Jun - 27 Jun |
Loaned Out | 2 |
GK Lovre Kalinić | FC Toulouse | 20 January 2020 - 30 June 2020 |
CF Scott Hogan | Birmingham City | 29 January 2020 - 31 July 2021 |
On this day 17 June 2020
2019-20 is now the longest season in English football eclipsing the previous record of the 1946-47 season that was played until 7 June 1947.What is different however is the level of fitness of the players.
*Wednesday, 17 June 2020*
The Premier League made its return after a 100-day absence as Aston Villa and Sheffield United played out a goalless draw in a match memorable for powerful statements before kick-off - and a major technology controversy.
As the action resumed behind closed doors at a largely deserted Villa Park, the players of both sides and officials took a knee for 10 seconds immediately before kick-off in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of those who have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the game got under way in this new environment, Sheffield United were the victims of a serious first-half injustice when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland fell behind his goalline clutching Oliver Norwood's free-kick in the 41st minute, only for referee Michael Oliver's watch to fail to signal a goal.
It was the pivotal moment of an affair high on endeavour but low on quality that at least represented the success of 'Project Restart' after the season was halted because of the global coronavirus crisis, bringing a result that was arguably more satisfactory for the visitors.
Villa - who were thwarted by some fine saves from United keeper Dean Henderson - will feel an opportunity has been missed, while a point for the Blades leaves them four points from Chelsea in fourth place.
There was, at least, a sense of relief that domestic football was finally up and running once more.
The silence enforced on this occasion by circumstances, with barely 300 people inside this vast Villa Park stadium, only added to the powerful moments that took place before kick-off.
After a minute's silence in memory of those who have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, players and officials took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at the sound of Oliver's whistle.
It was a truly atmospheric moment amid a game lacking the theatre and soundtrack traditionally provided by fans, while players also had Black Lives Matter printed across the back of their shirts where their names would usually be.
Aston Villa did their best to build the tension with a bombastic pre-match play-list and theatrical announcements of the home team line-up, but there is no doubt the so-called "new normal" will take some getting used to and may never be to the taste of many traditionalists.
This, however, is the current reality in the middle of a global crisis and there was no lack of effort, endeavour - or noise - from two highly-committed sets of players.
Chris Wilder was the more vocal and visible manager in his technical area and, for all the restrictions, the physical challenges were as committed as ever.
This alien environment will need acclimatisation from the players themselves, as well as all those in and around the other parts of the game. Muscle memory kicks in but there is no question the absence of a crowd and the flow of adrenaline that provides may take some getting used to, so there may well be something of a transitional period.
Those who have missed Premier League football so much during its 100-day hiatus may even have been tempted to greet the return of the video assistant referee (VAR) and goalline technology as old friends rather than the unwanted distraction that made them a target for such criticism before the campaign was halted.
Do not tell that to Sheffield United.
The Blades were denied a clear goal when Villa keeper Nyland carried Norwood's free-kick behind the line.
United's players were incredulous when the goal was not given, Oliver pointing to his watch to insist he had received no signal that the ball had crossed the line. It later became clear that he should have been alerted but was not and VAR was unable to intervene.
Sadly, a failure of technology meant a serious injustice was done on the Premier League's big comeback night.
Henderson's reputation has soared during his loan spell at Sheffield United from Manchester United - and it is easy to see why Wilder was delighted the 23-year-old is staying with the Blades until the end of the season.
He has calm command and produced the goods when called upon with some fine saves, including from Conor Hourihane, Keinan Davis and John McGinn.
There was plenty of endeavour but not huge amounts of quality, with Villa probably regretting their failure to make the most of some early chances, especially when Davis headed over from under the bar after a corner.
United, as ever, were resilient and showed the grit they have demonstrated throughout this excellent season.
And, when this first Premier League game back is analysed, they will have every right to curse the failure of technology we have been led to believe we can rely on.
Football is back - with all its qualities and faults.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: "I think the goalkeeper was in the Holte End when he caught it - or dragged it back. My issue is obviously one of frustration. Seven cameras haven't picked it up - the most technical league in the world - everything we see at every angle and it hasn't seen a goal. That is disappointing from our point of view.
"I did have a laugh and joke beforehand that we have had some poor decisions go against us and I said I wouldn't bet against one going against us this evening.
"We were waiting for somebody at Stockley Park to show a bit of courage and say they will make that decision, but if they've not seen it and seven cameras haven't seen it I suppose they will say that it was not their decision to make.
"It was a really strange afternoon and evening. Quite difficult as well. We should never underestimate the effect of playing in front of supporters. That was quite difficult for both sets of players. Most times we would be talking about a pretty average game but we are not, we are talking about a decision that has affected the result."
*Wednesday, 17 June 2020*
How heartening after three-months of lockdown, death and strife to have something so trivial to argue over as a disallowed goal. Welcome back, Premier League.
Of course the key detail here was not trivial in a football sense and, actually, there is no argument about whether the goal should have stood: the ball definitely crossed the line, the problem arose because the reputedly infallible goalline technology failed. Given the strangeness of this match’s context, it was a fittingly odd development. It was also an embarrassment the Premier League should have avoided in possibly its most anticipated fixture ever.
It came just before half-time in a match of impressively high intensity and, if it had been permitted, it would have given Sheffield United a lead as they tried to climb to fifth in the table and plunged Villa deeper into relegation trouble. Ollie Norwood fizzed an inswinging free-kick from the left wing and the home goalkeeper, Ørjan Nyland, stretched to catch it but his momentum sent him backpedaling over the goalline and crashing into the side-netting. He took the ball with him.
United players celebrated what they believed to be an obvious goal. But the referee, Michael Oliver, waved play on, dismissing protests by pointing to his watch to indicate it had not buzzed to confirm all of the ball had crossed the line. Moments later the referee blew for an infringement against Villa – and that brought an end to the passage of play, which is why, according to the Premier League, the decision was not allowed to be referred to VAR.
The exasperation was plain on the faces of United staff watching on a monitor on the sidelines.
Until that point the game had been tight and mildly diverting. Of course it was not the same as before. The first thing you noticed was what was missing. This was the Premier League Unplugged. No giddy throngs enlivened the stands before kick-off, no chanters or hawkers or hoopla. Nor even much chat. Just a drib-drab of club staffers and journalists, all waiting for the emergence of two squads of players who hoped to perform like superstars in a setting halfway between a Sunday League wilderness and a top-end film studio.
By the time the players emerged for their warm-ups, the thunder and rain above Villa Park had subsided and the sun pierced the clouds to spread a little light. Which, ultimately, is also what the football was here to do.
In competitive terms this was a critical duel, the match that these sides had in hand over those around them at opposite ends of the table. To the question about what has changed over the last three months they hoped to give contrasting answers: the Blades planned to play the same as before the forced pause, whereas Villa aimed to show evidence of serious change after the “refocusing and resetting” that Dean Smith spoke of doing during the shutdown.
Smith made some bold choices with his team selection, including the decision to pick Nyland in goal ahead of Pepe Reina. He also gave a first league start to Keinan Davis up front, deployed Ezri Konsa at right-back in a four-man defence and gave the fit-again John McGinn a first appearance for six months.
Chris Wilder, meanwhile, saw his continuity plans sabotaged by injuries to Jack O’Connell and John Fleck. The former was replaced by Jack Robinson, appearing in the league for the first time since joining United for free in January.
Davis made life uncomfortable for the visiting defenders as Villa started strongly. After rolling his marker in the first minute he lashed the ball across the face of goal, forcing an urgent clearance. Soon afterwards he had a chance to score after Konsa headed a corner back across the goal but, after doing well to reach it, he sent his own header over the bar from two yards.
McGinn met a dangerous free-kick in the 17th minute with a powerful header but Dean Henderson saved without fuss.
As the first half progressed United’s well-calibrated machine began to push back the hosts. The pressure from the visitors grew but penetration was lacking and, in a happy development, Villa did not look like self-destructing. And then Nyland reeled backwards over his line with the ball, but Villa got away with it.
Both sides pursued victory in the second half, Villa more convincingly. Henderson had to make two fine saves to foil Davis and then McGinn. Then Nyland held his ground after clasping a header from Oli McBurnie.