Football fans across the country have been eagerly anticipating the return of the nation’s finest spectacle, the Premier League and in our case Aston Villa.
On the 28th of May, Richard Masters, the chief executive of the Premier League, announced that topflight football in England would return on the 17th of June. As well as this, all remaining 92 games would be broadcast on television.
This statement meant that alternative forms of league conclusions would not be met in the English top division. These included the ‘null and void’ scenario where the season would effectively be ended and forgotten about and the controversial ‘points-per-game’ outcome which would have left Villa 19th and subsequently relegated, despite not yet playing an equal amount of games as the other relegation candidates. However, the ruling deems that all remaining 92 Premier League games will go ahead and be played behind closed doors (with some at neutral venues). But what does this mean for Villa?
Whilst all the other clubs in the bottom six have played 29 games (meaning they have 9 left), Villa have only played 28. This is due to the team’s exploits in the Carabao Cup which led them to the final at Wembley, meaning that the home game against Sheffield United originally scheduled for the 29th of February had to be postponed.
In a bid to complete the highest importance games first so that if the league had to be halted for a second time, all teams would have played equal numbers of games, Aston Villa versus Sheffield United, and Manchester City versus Arsenal will be played first on the 17th of June.
For the majority of the 92 remaining games, TV coverage and broadcast rights are yet to be finalised, however, the details of the first four Villa games have been confirmed and are listed below.
Aston Villa Versus Sheffield United
Wednesday 17th June
18:00 – Sky Sports
As previously mentioned, this fixture was originally due to take place on the 29th of February, however, Villa’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final in March meant this date had to be rescheduled.
With the City-Arsenal game scheduled to take place later that evening, Aston Villa and Sheffield United will be the first teams to return to Premier League action.
Interestingly, Villa were also involved in the final Premier League game to be played before the unexpected break, Leicester City 4–0 Aston Villa… Dean Smith will be hoping that his team can rectify that evening’s events immediately with a victory over the sparkling blades.
Last season, this fixture produced one of the games of the all-time great EFL games, culminating in a dramatic 3-3 draw which saw Villa recover from three goals down with less than ten minutes to go in the ninety, to caw back a share of the spoils.
Aston Villa Versus Chelsea
Sunday 21st June
16:15 – Sky Sports
The return fixture of Villa’s 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in December is a quarter past four kick-off on Sunday the 21st of June. The game is in the middle of a trio of games broadcast by Sky Sports, culminating in the Merseyside derby that evening.
Home advantage may prove crucial to Villa for the second game in a row as the visitors pursue a league double over the Villans. Whilst Frank Lampard will relish the chance to avenge his defeat at the hands of Villa in the play-off final last summer, one Chelsea star will be looking forward to the game for alternate reasons. The legacy of Tammy Abraham will last long in the memory of Villa fans young and old after his lone season at Villa Park where he recorded a goal tally of 25 in all competitions, a personal best.
Newcastle United Versus Aston Villa
Wednesday 24th June
St James’ Park
18:00 – BT Sport
Despite being one of the favourites to be relegated in pre-season, Newcastle United have defied the expectations of many as they sit 13th and eight points clear of the drop zone after playing 29 games.
As if there wasn’t enough drive in the Newcastle camp to defeat Aston Villa after they won the reverse fixture on home soil back in November, the personal vengeance of United manager, Steve Bruce will only amplify this.
Despite the term ‘toxic’ being thrown around far too often in football, when Bruce departed Villa in October 2018 after the now called ‘cabbage gate’ incident, the atmosphere around B6 at the time could only be described with this exhausted word.
The game itself is one of 5 Premier League fixtures that night: four of them kicking off at six o’clock and two involving both other sides currently occupying the drop zone, (Norwich and Bournemouth).
Aston Villa Versus Wolverhampton Wanderers
Saturday 27th June
12:30 – BT Sport
A game that needs no introduction.
Villa take on local rivals Wolves in what promises to be a fiery affair in a midland’s derby.
These two sides have already met twice previously this season, once in the Carabao Cup and once in the league and the wins have been shared. Aston Villa won the cup fixture against a youthful Wolves side in late October whilst Wanderers took all three points in the only Premier League meeting so far this season.
That game at Molineux in November saw Villa stopper, Jed Steer, injure himself and be ruled out for the remainder of the season as Villa then played the majority of the game with their third-choice keeper at the time, Nyland.
Despite the early kick-off, the game is the only one of the day so, rest assured all eyes will be firmly placed on the events at Villa Park that afternoon.