Premier League Odds, Picks and Predictions: Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa (Monday, Sept. 21)
Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images. Pictured: Oli McBurnie
- Aston Villa opens its Premier League season Monday against Sheffield United, a club coming off of a 2-0 loss to Wolves in its season opener.
- Bookmakers aren't expecting this to be a high-scoring affair -- will that lead to the season's first draw?
- Michael Leboff previews Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United and gives his betting pick below.
Premier League: Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa Odds
|Aston Villa Odds||+163 [BET NOW]|
|Sheffield United Odds||+185 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+220 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+117/-141) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Monday, 1 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||Peacock|
Aston Villa pulled off a Great Escape during Project Restart to avoid relegation in 2019-20. It was a positive finish and staying up is always the top priority for newly promoted sides, but the season as a whole was disappointing considering what the Villans spent in the transfer market last summer.
It seems like every season one newly promoted team makes a surprising run to a top-half finish. Aston Villa looked like they were going to be that team in 2019-20. That honor instead went to Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United, who were kind of the antithesis of Villa last season.
Instead of throwing money around to try and compete in the Premier League, the Blades relied on old-fashioned guile, good coaching and a team-first identity to vault themselves to a ninth-place finish.
This will be Aston Villa’s season opener, as the Villans were one of four teams that sat out Matchweek 1 due to the wonky schedule.
Villa were able to turn their season around thanks to a post-hiatus defensive renaissance. The Villans were the worst defensive team in the Premier League before the pause, allowing 2.2 expected goals per match through 28 contests. They weren’t great offensively, either, but their porous defense put way too heavy of a burden on Villa’s attack.
Remarkably, Aston Villa turned their defense into a strength after the hiatus and allowed just 1.01 xGA per game in the 10 matches after the break.
Which version of Aston Villa should we expect on Monday?
The Blades are coming off a 2-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers, a chic pick to make some noise at the top of the table this season. Sheffield fell behind by two goals inside the first six minutes against Wolves and it’s hard to gather much statistical evidence from a match like that.
Sheffield United rode a sturdy defense — and great goaltending — to success in 2019-20. The Blades finished fourth in goals against and eighth in expected goals against last season, but Dean Henderson’s goalkeeping was an integral piece of the goal-prevention puzzle. Henderson’s loan has since ended, so there could be some regression coming the Blades’ way in 2020-21.
The Blades won just three of 10 games after the pause, though those three results came against Wolves, Chelsea and Tottenham, and saw their xGA/match tick up from 1.32 to 1.52.
Wilder has had this team playing consistent, hard-to-break-down soccer for a while now and I don’t see that changing as the Blades try to establish themselves as a mainstay in the Premier League.
Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United Pick
One of the common misconceptions about betting soccer is that if you bet the draw you’re betting it because the two teams are evenly matched. That certainly helps your chances, but what you’re really looking for is a low-event game. The less volatility, the better.
Bookmakers aren’t expecting a high-scoring game — the Under 2.5 is -141 — and I’m not either. I expect both of these teams to play a pragmatic, well-organized style of football. It may not be the type of game that generates new fans, but that doesn’t matter to me.
A low total in a game with two sides that figure to play low-event soccer is enough for me to end up on the draw. I’d play it at +200 (33.3%) or better.
The Bet: Draw +220