Premier League football returned tonight as Aston Villa welcomed Sheffield United to Villa Park in the first game since the league was suspended back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And with football, controversy is never far behind and the game did not disappoint on that front!
Dean Smith opted for Orjan Nyland in goal with Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Matt Targett just in front of him. John McGinn returned from an injury that kept him out for 6 months as he lined up in midfield with Conor Hourihane, Douglas Luiz, Anwar El Ghazi and captain Jack Grealish. Keinan Davis surprised many when he was chosen to lead the line.
PAYING RESPECT & MAKING A STAND
Players and officials paid their respect with a minutes silence before kick-off to think about all those who had sadly been affected by Covid-19.
Both clubs also had an NHS logo inside a love heart displayed proudly on their shirts to thank all those involved in the NHS for their hard work during this unprecedented time.
And finally and certainly not least, the players took a knee before the game started to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter also replaced players names on the back of the shirts.
VILLA HAD THE BETTER OF THE CHANCES
Villa would argue they had the better of the chances over the whole game and may look back at what could have been. Sheffield United‘s Dean Henderson, who was named man of the match improved his ever-growing reputation with yet another fine performance.
The goalkeeper who was is on loan from Manchester United produced the goods when called upon. He was able to produce some fine saves to prevent Conor Hourihane, Keinan Davis and John McGinn from scoring.
Sheffield United were resilient as ever but as the game grew on, it was clear to see that both sides had not played a competitive game in 100 days.
As discussed earlier on, football usually comes with controversy so it was no real surprise that technology will be the big talking point after the game
MORE TECHNOLOGY CONTROVERSY
One thing football fans would most likely agree with is that they have all missed football but have not missed the technology involved in football. Both VAR and Hawkeye played their part.
Just before half time, Nyland appeared to take the ball behind the line but the goal-line technology did not signal for a goal. Despite it being clear, VAR failed to correct this decision as Sheffield United will feel hard done by. Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder stated after the game that Nyland was in the Holte End when talking about the decision.
Hawk-Eye statement on the goal line incident during Aston Villa v Sheffield match this evening. pic.twitter.com/I2u5lqKMqe
— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) June 17, 2020
Although that decision will grab all the headlines, many will forget that Villa had two very valid penalty shouts also. El Ghazi was kicked from behind in the box early on as the Sheffield United defender in question got nowhere near the ball, referee Michael Oliver waved it on but VAR didn’t appear to even view the incident.
In the second half, McGinn went on one of his runs into the box and appeared to be taken down Jack Robinson. Replays showed that the defender didn’t touch the ball but once again VAR kept out of it.
I felt like we may have got lucky with the big talking point decision but ultimately were the better side overall. Villa appeared solid for the majority of the game and appeared to hold their shape well defensively but lacked that final killer ball.
As the substitutions were introduced, it seemed to kill the flow of the game as those that came onto the field, failed to make very little impact. Up next is another big test for Villa as they take on Chelsea at the weekend.