The moment that fans across the country had been waiting for fizzled out into a drab 0-0 draw, where the technology will take most of the headlines.
Changes were expected and you can argue that previous line ups were irrelevant considering the last game was played months ago, but here’s how the two sides set up:
Aston Villa – 4-3-3: Nyland, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett, Hourihane, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, El-Ghazi, Davis, Grealish
Subs – 69′ Samatta for Davis, 69′ Trezeguet for El-Ghazi, 76′ Nakamba for McGinn, 76′ El Mohamady for Konsa
Sheffield United – 3-5-2: Henderson, Robinson, Egan, Basham, Stevens, Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Lundstram, McBurnie, Sharp
Subs – 69′ McGoldrick for Sharp, 69′ Freeman for Berge, 80′ Mousset for McBurnie
Sheffield United immediately began on the front foot, pushing Villa back into their own half and preventing them from playing out from the back. Chances were limited to crosses and long throws, and it was Villa who had the first serious effort on goal.
There were suspicions of offside as a free kick was recycled back into the box, and Conor Hourihane’s firmly struck volley was well saved by Henderson.
Both teams did a great job of preventing defenders feeding the ball into the midfield, and it resulted in a game of long balls without any end product.
The main talking point came just before the break as a free kick was swung in towards the far post and Nyland looked very uncomfortable as he crashed into the post while trying to gather it.
The Sheffield United players were pleading with Michael Oliver to give the goal, but he pointed at his watch and suggested it hadn’t crossed the line. Unfortunately the replays showed otherwise:
Should Sheffield United be ahead here!? ?
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) June 17, 2020
It’s not clear why the technology failed and it’s likely we will hear a lot more about this over the next few days, but ultimately the teams went in 0-0 at the break.
The second half was disrupted by multiple changes as both sides tried to find a way to get the vital goal, but there were no clear cut chances as the game eventually petered out and ended goalless.
It’s a result that does nothing for either side as Sheffield United stay behind Man United in the table and Villa remain in the relegation places, but at least a clean sheet is something for both to build from.
There may be some further controversy after reports surfaced which suggested the ref’s watch went off at half time to tell him that a goal should be awarded, so it’s well worth keeping an eye on that story in the next few days.
Bombshell from Jamie Redknapp who says the ref’s watch went off and told him it was a goal at half-time. Perhaps the WiFi’s been furloughed…
— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) June 17, 2020