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Aston Villa vs Sheffield United preview: Christmas Cheer or Horror Show?

Please don’t balls this up

Derby County v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

If last week’s match against Derby was a ‘swing and a miss’ on a count of 3-1, this match has got to be a home run on a full count to send the ball out of the park and put Villa back on course. Sheffield United visit today, but the team who have been barnstorming the Championship have lost a little bit of their magic and come to Villa out of form.

What to know about Aston Villa

It’s honestly not been good enough. Villa needed to not lose against Gary Rowett’s Derby County, but Steve Bruce set up without a striker and his team looked lost. Glenn Whelan’s poor backpass helped put us behind, but AVFC didn’t do anything further to help themselves. Derby were allowed to run the game and Villa didn’t offer a physical threat at all.

Improvement is needed across the board, and starting with a striker - be it Davis, Hogan or Agbonlahor is needed. Just so there is at least someone to punt the damn ball to! Sheffield United will look to attack hard on the break, and with Mile Jedinak on his last legs, Villa could be in for a tough afternoon at the back. Neil Taylor and his partner on the right flank will have it all to do.

The midfield battles will be crucial. Steve Bruce will likely field Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane against Sheffield United and the two Irishmen will need to be on their top form. Not only will they have to help out Villa’s battered defense, but they will be the men who make Villa’s counter attacks happen.

Aston Villa are rich in creativity, but never do anything creative. However, that should change today with a near enough full-house roaring Jack Grealish on for what could be his first home start of the season. Josh Onomah needs a rest, much like Davis. Let’s hope Callum O’Hare or Rushian Hepburn-Murphy are included in the matchday squad as well, because Villa do need a spark right now and if Josh and Jack can’t provide that, the stars of tomorrow will need to make way for the stars of the day after.

What to know about Sheffield United

Sheffield United are the surprise package of the season, unless you’re our Alex Carson who accurately predicted, among other things, that The Blades would make a decent fist out of it this year.

Sheffield United are fast, direct and to the point. Much like a Blade! That’s a huge worry for any team to come up against them, as they can pretty much score when they feel like it - or when they get their act together.

However, they have fallen out of form recently, are missing key men and there’s no reason why Villa shouldn’t give them a good game today, and score a number of goals in the process.

The issue? They are Sheffield United, and they are more than capable of pulling out the surprises. Chris Wilder’s team are the definition of those unquantifiable footballing attributes that we so love to preach about, but there’s also method to the madness in Sheffield. Villa will need to be professional here to dispatch The Blades.

Prediction

There will be goals when Sheffield United are involved. I’m calling it as 3-1 to Villa. Bruce’s men need to bounce back here.