Aston Villa boss Dean Smith isn’t expecting “too many surprises” when his team face Sheffield United on Monday.
The Blades travel to Villa Park in the Premier League looking to secure their first win of the new season. They lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day and have since been knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by Burnley.
The Villans, in contrast, beat Burton Albion in the cup. This is their first league game after their opener with Manchester City was postponed because of City reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.
The two sides were promoted from the Championship together in 2019. Yet they have very different campaigns back in the top flight.
United finished ninth in their first Premier League season in 12 years. Meanwhile, Villa only avoided relegation on the final day.
Smith has faced Chris Wilder several times as a manager with both the Villans and Brentford.
What Dean Smith thinks about the Blades
“There’s quite a few teams playing three at the back,” Smith said in his pre-match press conference. “I don’t think there’s going to be too many surprises in how we both play and how we both set up.
“I’m accustomed to the players that he’s got and know an awful lot about quite a few of them because I’ve had a couple of them myself and sold them to Sheffield United. The likes of John Egan, Jack O’Connell.
“It’s a team that hasn’t changed too much. They’ve evolved as a team by moving into the Premier League.”
Last term, United got the better of their fellow promoted side overall. They beat them 2-0 at Bramall Lane, before drawing 0-0 with them at Villa Park post-lockdown.
Even then, though, the visitors arguably should have won as an Ollie Norwood free-kick crossed the line but the goal line technology failed.
Clearly Smith feels more prepared this time around. Especially after spending £83m on new players this summer. The proof will come on Monday night.