Sheffield United vs Aston Villa preview: A genuine promotion battle in South Yorkshire

Sheffield United meet Aston Villa at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night in a Championship match.

Sheffield United vs Aston Villa preview: A genuine promotion battle in South Yorkshire
Steve Bruce speaks to the media at his pre-match press conference. (Photo: Neville Williams / Getty Images)

Sheffield United host Aston Villa in midweek, with both sides well in the hunt for promotion from the Championship

Over the mid-season blues?

After a fantastic first four months back in the second tier, it would be fair to say Sheffield United suffered a slump in form to end what had been a great year for the club in 2017. The Blades only picked up five points from the last seven games of this past calendar year, which has since contributed to them now being just outside the playoff positions.

However, manager Chris Wilder has clearly gone back to basics to start 2018 in terms of getting his side to be a lot tighter at the back, with United only conceding two goals in their first five games of the year. The Blades grabbed a much needed win last time out in the league by beating Norwich City 2-1 away from home and they'll also have taken great confidence from beating top half Championship opponents in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup this month.

Villains caught between battles

With the end of the Championship season starting to come into view, Aston Villa find themsleves in a very promising and at the same time precarious fifith placed position in the league table. For example if Steve Bruce's side win on Tuesday and Derby County lost their game at Milwall then they could find themsleves in the second automatic automatic promotion spot.

However, a defeat for the Villains against their seventh placed hosts and they could be left with just a two point cushion over the first side outside the top six. Villa's fans will be delighted with their start to 2018 though, if you ignore their FA Cup third round exit at home to Peterborough United. Their four league games so far this year have resulted in four wins, 10 goals scored and only one conceded.

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Team news

Striker Ched Evans may make his first league appearance since September in this game after coming off the bench against Preston North End on Saturday following an ankle injury.

United remain without long term absentees Kieron Freeman due to a knee injury and David Brooks who is still recovering from a case of glandular fever.

Axel Tuanzebe is set to make his Villa debut in this one after signing on loan from Manchester United last week. Tuanzebe will undoubtedly give Villa great versatility down the left hand side.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and defender Chris Samba are both back in training after a month out, but this game will come too early for the pair trying to build their fitness back up.

Stats

Sheffield United are winless in their last eight league meetings with Villa, losing five of those games.

Since a run of 13 home wins in 14 league games dating back to last season in League One, Sheffield United have only won one of their last six league matches at Bramall lane.

Scott Hogan has scored four goals in his last three league games for Villa having scored just once in his first 31 league outings for them before that. 

Last time out

These two clubs last met just two days before Christmas, with them playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Villa Park. Villa raced into a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes courtesy of an Albert Adomah penalty and a Miles Jedinak header. United would get themselves back on level terms before half-time however, thanks to a brace from Leon Clarke