The Premier League has three new faces among its ranks and we’ve taken a look at each of the latest clubs to earn promotion to the top flight.
How did they get here?
After a poor run of form between December and March, Villa notched up 10 consecutive wins in their last 12 games of the season, thus securing themselves a spot in the Championship play-offs in fifth place - three points ahead of Middlesbrough in seventh.
For the play-off semi-finals, Villa would face West Bromwich Albion and the pair of Birmingham clubs battled through two clashes situated just four miles apart. With Villa winning the first leg 2-1 and the Baggies earning a 1-0 victory through Craig Dawson in the second, the first of the two play-off finalists would be selected by a penalty shoot-out.
Scoring four of their five spot-kicks - with former Palace captain Mile Jedinak netting their second - Villa made it to Wembley as 4-3 victors. Their opponent the following Monday would be Frank Lampard’s Derby County, who had overcome Leeds United in a thrilling 4-2 play-off semi-final.
Goals from Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn ensured Jack Marriott’s 81st-minute effort wasn’t enough to steal a Premier League place from Villa and the claret and blues ran-through as 2-1 winners.
Top of the Championship with 94 points, Norwich earned promotion 11 points clear of Leeds, who finished in third place.
The Canaries had played consistently throughout the season, but were not expected to perform so well and were certainly not favourites to earn promotion, predicted by one BBC panel to finish 11th.
However just six defeats from 46 games saw Daniel Farke’s men secure their ascension in the penultimate match of the campaign, their celebrations halted by four consecutive draws in their final six league clashes - the only stains on an otherwise winning run of 10 from 14 matches.
Palace’s opponents this week also earned promotion to the top flight with one game to go and took the league by surprise in similar fashion to Norwich. The Blades were into just their second Championship season since 2011, having finished 10th on their return after topping League One in 2017.
Just two years later, they would find themselves celebrating again as an eventual six-point gap with Leeds took them into the Premier League without the tension and threat of the play-offs.
After a bumpy first half of the season, United would go on to lose just twice from 22nd December until the end of the campaign and launched themselves further up the table as they did. A spell between the end of January and the middle of March saw the Blades go unbeaten in 10 consecutive matches, racking up 25 points as they did.
Who’s in charge?
A former centre-back who plied his trade largely in the Third Division, Smith took over at Villa after lengthy stints leading Walsall and Brentford between 2011-18. With Walsall, the manager led his first professional club from over 20-years before to the final of the 2014/15 Football League Trophy.
With John Terry as his assistant coach, Smith took ahold of the reigns at Villa in October 2018 after Steve Bruce’s dismissal and was named Championship Manager of the Month for March.
A lower-level German forward, Farke’s career on the pitch was far from distinguished but flourished in his first role in the dugout. Taking over at former club SV Lippstadt 08, Farke was in charge for half a dozen years and took the side from the sixth tier of German football to the fourth in what is widely considered their best spell in a 22-year history.
After leading Borussia Dortmund’s reserve side for two seasons, the 42-year-old took over at Norwich at the end of the 2016/17 season. A 14th-place finish followed before the Canaries shocked the league into being named champions at the end of last season.
Another former player, Wilder’s career as a right-back spanned a 15-year period - starting at the Blades in 1986. Over 400 professional matches later and Wilder entered management with National League club Alfreton Town, with whom he won four trophies in just 27 weeks.
The last manager for Halifax Town before the side were liquidated in 2008, the now-51-year-old spent time with Oxford United and Northampton Town before joining Sheffield United in 2016.
Villa’s captain and Academy graduate Jack Grealish has been with the club since 2001, when he joined aged just six-years-old. With 185 career appearances to his name despite being only 23, Grealish was a key man for the Villans last year and was notably missed between December-March as injury sidelined him.
Named captain on his return, the midfielder led Villa to break a 109-year record of nine straight victories.
A prolific frontman, Pukki joined Norwich as a free transfer in summer 2018 from Danish side Brøndby IF. Over the following season, he bagged 30 times from just 41 appearances - 31% of the side’s league goals.
The Championship’s top scorer for the previous campaign, Pukki has already bagged his first Premier League effort as he struck against Liverpool in a 4-1 defeat.
England Under-21 shot-stopper Dean Henderson is entering his second season on loan with the Blades. A Manchester United youth player, he was named United’s Young Player of the Year last season and earned the Championship Golden Glove.
He featured 47 times in a single campaign for Chris Wilder’s side and has kept his place as No.1 this season, starting against AFC Bournemouth last Saturday.
Internationally, the ‘keeper has played for England between Under-16 and Under-21 levels and played as first choice in the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
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