Aston Villa v Sheffield United Preview: Project Restart kicks off at Villa Park
Bjorn Engels celebrating with Ezri Konsa via Getty Images- Laurence Griffiths

Project Restart gets underway this evening as Aston Villa host Sheffield United at Villa Park, in the first Premier League fixture in 100 days.

Aston Villa will be coming into this game in desperate need of the three points as they look to retain their Premier League status. This is the Villains game in hand that could not be played due to their involvement in the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City. If Villa do get the three points, it will take them out of the relegation spaces ahead of the first full round of fixtures this weekend. 

Sheffield United are on the other end of the scale when it comes to the need for points. A victory for the Blades could do wonders for their European ambitions, as it would put them 5th and could prove vital as Tottenham and Manchester United meet on Friday night. 

Villa's Premier League status at stake

Villa come into the restart with some work to do if they want to retain their Premier League status. Villa have lost their last five games in all competitions, including four in the league, which is their worst losing run since losing 11 league games straight back in 2016, which saw them head into the Championship.

One player, who will want to avoid history repeating itself is captain Jack Grealish. The Englishman has been Villa's creative spark this season alongside John McGinn, and he will need to be at his best if Villa can beat the drop this time. Grealish is second only to Wolves' Adama Traore in creating chances created after a take on with seven. As club-record signing is Wesley is out for the season, and Mbwana Samatta hasn't had the chance to get going in a Villa shirt, it could be down to the captain to provide the firepower.

Villa have a hard run of fixtures following the restart, with the visit of Chelsea on Saturday and Wolves in 10 days before travelling to Champions elect Liverpool at the start of July. If the Villains have any chance of staying up, Villa Park needs to become a fortress. 

Villa also want to avenge the 2-0 defeat they suffered at Bramall Lane in December but will take hope in the fact the Blades are winless in their last 12 league visits to Villa Park. 

The Blades on a European Tour

As mentioned previously, Sheffield United want the points tonight to strengthen their chances of at least playing Europa League football next season. The Blades could find themselves 5th after tonight's game and then have the luxury of watching two of their closest rivals taking each other on Friday. 

Sheffield United this season have been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League and thoroughly deserve their place in the top seven. The Blades have only lost twice away this season to the top two sides and have the second-best defensive record behind Liverpool. 

If the Blades win, they will be the first promoted side since Ipswich Town in 2001 to reach 45 points at this stage of the season. 

The Blades have to go to Old Trafford and host Chelsea, Tottenham and Wolves in their remaining fixtures, so win tonight and away to Newcastle United on Saturday could have those Blades dreaming of a European Tour next season. 

Team News

John McGinn will be available to Dean Smith for the first time since the Scot fractured his ankle, just before Christmas. Smith did say he would manage his talisman's workload with the number of games to be played still.

Jed Steer has also recovered from an Achilles injury and can take his place between the sticks. Tom Heaton and Wesley will not feature again for the Villains this season. 

Chris Wilder will have a fully fit squad to choose from but has mentioned that we won't be seeing too many surprises.

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