After 100 days without top-flight football, the Premier League makes its triumphant comeback with two games on Wednesday that could have ramifications on both the top and bottom of the table.
Manchester City’s clash against Arsenal (20:15) is the main course on day one of what is set to be a summer feast of English football over the next six weeks but it all gets back underway with Aston Villa playing host to Sheffield United at 18:00.
Battling Blades Take on the Villans
Having both been promoted from the Championship last season, the Blades and Villa were expected to be battling to retain their Premier League status, and in the case of Dean Smith’s men that has certainly been the case.
Villa sit 19th in the table, two points from safety, and lost their last four league matches before the campaign was called to a temporary halt.
In contrast, Chris Wilder’s Blades have defied pre-season expectations to mount an unlikely push for European qualification and are 18 points better off than Wednesday’s opponents.
Sheffield United are unbeaten in four league matches, while their only losses since the start of 2020 have come at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester City.
They won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in December but don’t have the best record at Villa Park, winning just one of their last eight visits.
Despite history being against them, Sheff United are
6/5 favourites to do the double over Villa, who have a dreadful record against top-10 sides this season, losing 11 out of 14 meetings and conceding two or more goals in 13 of those games.
Smith’s men are boosted by the return of midfielder John McGinn from an ankle injury and his availability offers them a glimmer of hope. Their record of scoring in over 90 per cent of home league matches also carries some weight.
The Blades have scored in 10 of their last 13 away matches and both teams to score is available at
Goals on the Cards at the Etihad
There should also be goals at the Etihad Stadium in the late kick-off as Pep Guardiola welcomes his old assistant Mikel Arteta back to the club.
Arsenal could put the final nail in the coffin when it comes to Manchester City’s title defence and the Gunners have looked a much-improved side since Arteta’s appointment, going eight games unbeaten in the league, while they went into lockdown on the back of three straight wins.
Their recent record against City is wretched though, losing the last six and conceding exactly three in five of those games.
Guardiola’s men have had three months to dwell on their Manchester derby defeat to United before football was suspended and with all their big guns rested, they look a very dangerous proposition for any side.
10/31 favourites for what would be a fifth home win in the last six matches but Arsenal could cause them a few issues and maintain their record of having scored on their last seven trips to the Etihad Stadium.
A City win and both teams to score is
6/5 for what should be an enthralling contest between the master Guardiola and his former apprentice.
*All odds correct at time of writing