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Premier League preview: Can Manchester United avoid banana skin at winless Sheffield United?

| 17.12.2020

We take a look at tonight’s top-flight games

The Premier League’s midweek schedule concludes tonight, with two more thrilling fixtures to look forward to.

First up, Aston Villa and Burnley are both looking to secure back-to-back wins having enjoyed impressive results against Wolves and Arsenal respectively at the weekend.

And later on, Manchester United travel to rock-bottom Sheffield United looking to leapfrog Manchester City and Chelsea into sixth.

Ahead of the action, we’ve taken a closer look at the form, the team news and the latest odds.

Aston Villa v Burnley (18:00)

After thrashing Liverpool 7-2 earlier this season and enjoying impressive wins away at Leicester, Arsenal and Wolves, Villa fans could be forgiven for admitting they’re having a fantastic season. But they’ll also be wondering how much better it could already have been.

The Midlands side have exemplified inconsistency, coupling those stunning victories with disappointing defeats to Leeds, Southampton, Brighton and West Ham, four teams they would have shared similar pre-season expectations with.

And while claiming the scalps of the big boys is impressive, it’s results against the teams around them where they’ll ultimately be judged. Villa are mesmerising going forward when they’re in the mood, with the likes of Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins terrifying defences.

Jack Grealish

But there aren’t many backlines in the Premier League more difficult to penetrate than Burnley’s. Sean Dyche’s side endured a difficult start to the campaign but after claiming their first win over Crystal Palace, they’ve since held Everton to a draw and, like Villa, came away from the Emirates with a clean sheet and all three points.

The hosts will be without Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz, who both serve one-match suspensions, but they’ll be boosted by the news that Ross Barkley could return from a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Tom Heaton is also nearing a return to fitness having spent 11 months on the sidelines.

But the former Burnley stopper will have to bide his time to force his way back into the side following Emiliano Martinez’s impressive form since his summer switch from Arsenal.

For Burnley, Johann Berg Gudmundsson faces a late fitness test after picking up a thigh injury. Elsewhere, Jack Cork, Dale Stephens and Phil Bardsley were in under-23 action this week, although the trio aren’t likely to be ready for first-team action just yet.

Aston Villa are the odds-on favourites to win at 3/4. Burnley can be backed at 7/2, while the draw is going at 13/5.

Sheffield United v Manchester United (20:00)

Rewind 12 months and Sheffield United were flying high in the Premier League, with dreams of a European campaign on their minds. But second-season syndrome appears to have kicked in and they find themselves bottom of the pile, with just one point from their opening 12 matches.

They welcome a Manchester United side to Bramall Lane who ostensibly appear to be in crisis despite consistently picking up results. The pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mounted following their Champions League exit last week but a goalless draw at home to rivals Manchester City at the weekend followed four consecutive Premier League wins.

A win for the visitors this evening will see them leapfrog both City and Chelsea into sixth place and the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford will be licking their lips at the prospect of coming up against the Blades.

Yet Chris Wilder remains convinced his side will turn their form around and perhaps for good reason. Prior to Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Southampton, just two of their league losses this season have been by more than one goal. And it feels as though once Wilder finds the right balance in his line-up and gets that first win, their luck could suddenly change.

Chris Wilder

Oli McBurnie could miss out for the hosts after picking up a shoulder injury against Southampton. Summer signing Rhian Brewster may be recalled in the Scot’s absence and the former Liverpool man will need no added motivation to open his Blades account against tonight’s opponents.

For Solskjaer’s side, Edinson Cavani is still sidelined but they’ve been boosted in attack by the return of Anthony Martial, who came off the bench against City on Saturday.

Sheffield United are priced at 13/2 with Coral. The draw is 17/5 while we go 4/9 that Manchester United triumph.

View the latest football odds.

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication



Harry Howes

Having previously worked on national newspapers, Harry is an experienced writer who is obsessed with all things football and Wilfried Zaha, even naming his cat after the future Ballon d’Or winner.