ROUNDBALL DAILY

Newly-promoted sides Sheffield United, Aston Villa represent themselves well in Premier League opener

Sheffield United’s English striker Billy Sharp celebrates after he scores the team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Sheffield United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on August 10, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) /

The gap between the top teams in the Championship and mid-tier to bottom-tier ones in the Premier League isn’t that great, as we’ve seen repeatedly in competitions like the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.

On Saturday, several of the newly-promoted clubs provided a stark reminder of that.

Sheffield United went at Bournemouth, hung with the up-and-coming Cherries all game, and came away with a well-earned draw. The Blades fell behind in the 60th minute, then force-fed Bournemouth an equalizer in the 88th minute like it was one of those beef pies they sell in the stands.

Billy Sharp knocked in the tying goal, putting it in from about three feet out after a scramble in front and some poor defense in front by the Cherries.

Sheffield finished second in the Championship last season, and their gutty, defensive, tough brand of football just might earn them a chance to stay up in the Prem this season. The Blades took 47% of the possession and put eight shots on goal, as compared to Bournemouth’s 12.

Aston Villa afforded themselves well at Tottenham, jumping out to a stunning 1-0 lead in the ninth minute on a brilliant pass from Tyrone Mings to John McGinn, who cashed it in from inside the box.

The Villans held the 1-0 lead into the 73rd minute, when Tanguay Ndombele finally evened things up for the heavily-favored Spurs.

Villa was unlucky to fall behind 2-1 when a ridiculous pinball-like scramble gifted Harry Kane the ball at his feet right in front of goal in the 86th minute, and he added a stoppage-time strike to make the final score 3-1.

Still, Villa looked like it might have a shot to surpass some of the league’s bottom-tier teams and hang around for a while in the top flight. Mings was absolutely brilliant as a last line of defense in front of Villa’s goal, blocking several shots and frustrating Tottenham’s high-powered scorers.

Goalkeeper Tom Heaton was terrific as well, stopping four on-target shots and making a sprawling, full-extension save on Harry Kane to keep the game tied late. Spurs peppered Villa all afternoon, outshooting them 31-7, but Heaton’s brilliance kept them in the game.

Villa will take on Bournemouth next week, and we may learn as much about Eddie Howe’s club as we do about the newly-promoted sides.

Norwich City didn’t have nearly as much luck in its Premier League debut, as they were trounced by Liverpool, 4-1, but the Canaries did create several scoring opportunities, and it’s no small feat putting one in the back of the net against the vaunted Reds’ defense.

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