The Premier League is back in just several days, with football fans around the world rejoicing. The first port of call for England’s top tier is to play out the fixtures to bring everyone to the same number of games played; with the fixtures involving the Carabao Cup finalists having left four teams a match behind.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United
The first game after the restart sees two promoted teams in Aston Villa and Sheffield United go head to head. Both sides are managed by supporters of the club, with Dean Smith in the home dugout and Chris Wilder in charge of the Blades. Villa and Sheffield United’s seasons so far couldn’t have been more different. As Dean Smith’s side battling to beat the drop, while the Blades continue to push for a place in Europe.
Form will likely go out of the window due to how long football has been out of action. However, Villa have lost their last four Premier League games, while Wilder’s men have won three and drawn once in their previous four outings. There will be less pressure on Villa as games are happening behind closed doors. But, as they are two points adrift of safety, that’s pressure in itself.
The Blades To Win
Chris Wilder will undoubtedly have his team fit and primed, and they rarely let him down. If this game was happening on its original date, even though the Blades have a lousy record at Villa Park, I would have expected them to win convincingly. Behind closed doors, I still think Wilder’s men will come out on top. However, this game will be tighter, and there’s an outside chance the Villains could pinch a draw.
Manchester City vs Arsenal
Manchester City, the 2020 Carabao Cup winners, play host to Arsenal in the second game on Wednesday evening. It will see City manager Pep Guardiola take on his former assistant manager Mikel Arteta, in what should be an action-packed affair. It’s not been the most fruitful season for City; as Liverpool have all but wrestled the Premier League trophy from them. And, after an indifferent campaign for Arsenal, they turned to Arteta after firing Unai Emery.
Recent Premier League Form
City lost 2-0 to local rivals Manchester United last time out in the Premier league, and while recent form is irrelevant; picking up three points on their return will see them extend their lead over third-placed Leicester City to seven points. Arsenal, on the other hand, are giving a top-five finish their best shot. And, three points at the Etihad will see go two points behind Manchester United who are currently in fifth.
A Possible Draw
This Premier League season has proven City are beatable, and I think the game will be closer than it would have been last year, for example. Guardiola will want his team to have a strong end to the campaign, but Arsenal have looked good under Arteta, and the Spaniard knows how his former boss works. A draw is the most likely result, in my opinion. But, Arsenal could head back to London with all three points.