The first game of project restart of the the Premier League ended goalless as Sheffield United missed the chance to climb into fifth spot.
It was a match up that wouldn't usually catch the eye of casual football viewers under regular circumstances but today all eyes around the world were fixed on Villa Park as the Premier League returned.
It was a dull affair but with one major talking point with Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland clearly carrying the ball following a Oliver Norwood cross over the goal line. However the goal line technology system did not register the ball being across the line.
Technology continues to haunt Sheffield United
The introduction of VAR at the start of the season has been polarising to say the least across the Premier League but it has defintely had a negative affect on Sheffield United over the course of the season.
Just before the break, midfielder Norwood swung in a dangerous looking freekick causing trouble to the Aston Villa defence and goalkeeper. Nyland seemed to have caught it but then collided with a teammate and seemed to carry the ball over the goal line. Referee Michael Oliver checked his watch but no sign of a goal appeared so the no goal was given.
Hawkeye technology did not adjudge the ball to have crossed the line and the game remained goalless, with VAR not intervening.
Hawkeye Innovations released the statement after the game saying: "The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the keeper, defender & goalpost"
"This level of occulusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches."
Both teams learning to adapt
Inevitably it was the game of the highest standards with plenty of misplaced passes and slow rate of play. However there were positive signs for both teams looking foward to their games on Sunday.
Keinan Davies looked a constant threat for Aston Villa causing Sheffield United defender John Egan trouble, particularly in the first half with long balls over the Blades defence. He also forced goalkeeper Dean Henderson into a smart save early in the second half.
Sheffield United failed to create any clear cut chances througout the game in a poor performance by their usual high standards. Key players Jack O'Connell and John Fleck were missing due to injury seemed to be big misses for the Blades particularly in attacking sense. O'Connell's replacement Jack Robinson, who was signed in January was effective however by helping the Blades gain their eleventh clean sheet of the season.
A point was not enough to see Villa climb outside the relegation zone but the Blades did move upto sixth as both teams look forward to Sunday, as Aston Villa host Chelsea and Sheffield United travel the North East to take on Newcastle.
Solidarity shown by both sides
All players names on the back of the shirts were replaced by the slogan 'Black Lives Matter' and a NHS logo was placed on front of the shirt.
In addition to this every single player on both signs took a knee on the starting whistle to show their solidarity of the Black Live Matters movement in a really powerful moment.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the game at Villa Park was the first in Premier League history to be played behind closed doors. However a very touching tribute was made to Dean Smith's father who was a steward at Villa Park who passed away due to the virus. A singular stewards jacket was placed in the Holte End as a tribute.