As the Premier League returned after a 100-day absence-and a big technology uproar in a match Aston Villa and Sheffield United played a low-key goalless draw that was memorable with strong pre-kick-off announcements. As the game resumed behind closed doors at a virtually empty Villa Park, the players on both sides and officials took a knee for 10 seconds shortly before kick-off in favor of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
A minute of silence in remembrance of those who died as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic followed that.
When the game began in this new environment, Sheffield United was the victims of serious first-half injustice when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland fell in the 41st minute behind his goal-line clutching Oliver Norwood’s free-kick just for referee Michael Oliver’s watch to fail to send out a target.
It was the pivotal moment of a high-profile but low-quality affair that, after the season was halted due to the global coronavirus crisis, at least represented ‘Project Restart’ success, resulting in a result that is arguably more satisfactory for The Blades than Villa.
Villa – thwarted by some fine saves from Sheffield United keeper Dean Henderson – must feel like a missed opportunity, while a point for The Blades leaves them four points off Chelsea fourth. There was at least a sense of joy that house football was now up and running again.