Languishing at the foot of the Premier League table with only two victories from 23 matches and staring at an immediate return to the Championship, Sheffield United were handed a boost before kick-off as the already in-form loan figure of Ben Brereton Díaz was declared fit, despite coming off injured in the midweek defeat to Crystal Palace.
On the other hand, Aston Villa remain firmly in the hotly-contested ongoing battle for UEFA Champions League qualification – but had only registered one victory across their previous five league outings.
SHU: Foderingham; Trusty, Ahmedhodžić, Bogle, Holgate, Norrington-Davies; Souza, Díaz, McAtee, Brooks; Slimane
AVL: Martínez; Konsa, Lenglet, Carlos, Moreno; Kamara, Luiz; Tielemans, McGinn, Bailey; Watkins
Having registered six victories from their seven matches under the stewardship of Unai Emery against newly-promoted sides, Aston Villa ripped Sheffield United apart with a ruthless opening eight-minute spell in front of goal.
Firstly, Villa captain John McGinn began the rampage in the 12th minute as he reacted quickest to complete the simple task of tapping the ball home into an empty net after a combination of the post and Anel Ahmedhodžić had denied Ollie Watkins. However, nothing could keep the visitors’ top goalscorer this season from getting his name on the scoresheet four minutes later, as he clinically fired Douglas Luiz’s exquisite defence-splitting delivery past Wes Foderingham.Embed from Getty Images
Leon Bailey would complete Villa’s unrelenting rampage, and in turn continue his impressive set of attacking returns this season in the 20th minute, as he fired a visibly-stunning strike past the Blades’ goalkeeper – who had been restored to the Blades’ XI with new signing Ivo Grbić still in concussion protocol.
Youri Tielemans would make it game, set and match to Villa on the stroke on only stroke the half-hour mark, as he netted his first Premier League goal for the second city outfit with a thunderous strike via a helping hand off the underside of the crossbar.
Well on their way to regaining their place in the top four at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur, Villa completed their five-star review of Saturday night’s trip to Bramall Lane almost immediately from the restart as Watkins put it on a plate for Àlex Moreno to sensationally volley past Foderingham.Embed from Getty Images
Following a break as Emery’s side decided that a five-goal upturn in their goal difference was enough for the evening, Sheffield United managed to muster their first significant effort on target in the game as deadline day signing Mason Holgate brought a brilliant save out of Emiliano Martínez.
With regular time having now elapsed, the Blades thought they had netted a late consolation in the second-half stoppage time, however, VAR intervened to rule out Vinícius Souza’s strike due to the discovery of an offside in the build-up.
The commanding victory for Aston Villa sees them restore their place in the UEFA Champions League qualification positions, while Sheffield United continue to stare at the very realistic possibility of spending next season in the Championship.