Preview: Anthony Martial to continue to shine against Aston Villa in the final pre-season match in Australia?

Erik ten Hag's style of play being implemented well with three wins in three so far

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia

Saturday 23 July 2022, KO 10:45 BST

Manchester United play their final pre-season match in Australia on Saturday, facing Aston Villa at the Optus Stadium in Perth. United have played there matches so far beating Liverpool 4-0, Melbourne Victory 4-1 and Crystal Palace 3-1 – scoring 11 goals in those matches, conceding just twice. Erik ten Hag has got his team playing at the moment.

Steven Gerrard will be seeking to get his Villa side in shape before the start of the new Premier League season in just over a fortnight having signed Philippe Coutinho, Diego Carlos, Robin Olsen, Boubacar Kamara and Rory Wilson so far this summer with three of his four new signings involved in the squad for their pre-season tour.

United are tasked with improving their playing style, which has gone well so far but is yet to face its first hurdle, which will come in time. Ten Hag has made three signings for the club so far with Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, although the Argentinian defender has not yet seen his deal completed.

United will have two more pre-season matches left this summer after this match, facing Atletico Madrid at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo on the 30 July and Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on the 31 July – giving Ten Hag time to see more of his new signings and the rest of his squad before the season actually starts.

Manchester United Pre-Season Squad

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Tom Heaton, Nathan Bishop, Matej Kovar

Defenders: Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia, Raphael Varane, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Will Fish, Ethan Laird

Midfielders: Bruno Fernandes, Amad Diallo, Fred, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, James Garner, Scott McTominay, Hannibal Mejbri, Charlie Savage, Zidane Iqbal

Forwards: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Elanga, Tahith Chong, Alejandro Garnacho 

Aston Villa Pre-Season Squad

Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martínez, Robin Olsen, Oliwier Zych, Filip Marschall

Defenders: Matty Cash, Diego Carlos, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Calum Chambers, Ashley Young, Frederic Guilbert, Lucas Digne, Kaine Kesler Hayden, Ludwig Augustinsson, Josh Feeney, Ben Chrisene

Midfielders: Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Morgan Sanson, Emiliano Buendía, Bertrand Traoré, Marvelous Nakamba, Philippe Coutinho, Leon Bailey, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Jacob Ramsey, Tim Iroegbunam, Boubacar Kamara, Aaron Ramsey

Forwards: Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings, Keinan Davis, Cameron Archer

Manchester United Manager: Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag is at the fifth club of his management career having previously managed the Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II, Utrecht and Ajax before United. He started management in 2012 at Go Ahead Eagles managing 39 matches; winning 18, drawing 11 and losing 12 – winning 46.2%.

He was at Bayern Munich II from 2013 until 2015 where he managed 72 matches; winning 48, drawing 10 and losing 14 – winning 66.7%. He managed Utrecht from 2015 until 2017 where he managed 111 matches; winning 56, drawing 26 and losing 29 – winning 50.5%.

Moving to Ajax in 2017 until 2022, Ten Hag managed 215 matches; winning 158, drawing 28 and losing 29 – winning 73.5%. In total, Ten Hag has managed 437 matches; winning 280, drawing 75 and losing 82 – winning 64.1%. In theory, Ten Hag’s arrival at United is similar to Klopp’s at Liverpool.

During his management career, Ten Hag has won seven trophies – including one Regionalliga Bayern, three Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and one Johan Cruyff Shield. It is hoped that he could resurrect United during his time at the club but he has a lot of work ahead of him to do that.

Aston Villa Manager: Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard is at his second club in his management career, previously looking after Liverpool U18 and U19, but because that was not first ten football, I have not included that as management. Gerrard, 42 started out at Rangers, managing the club from June 2018 until November 2021 – making that step up from youth management to first team management.

At Rangers, Gerrard managed 193 matches; winning 125, drawing 42 and losing 26 – winning 64.8% of his matches at the club. From there, Gerrard became the Aston Villa manager where he has so far managed 28 matches; winning 10, drawing five and losing 13 – winning 35.7%. This coming season will be his first full season at Villa in the Premier League.

In total, at both Rangers and Villa, Gerrard has managed 221 matches; winning 135, drawing 47 and losing 39 – winning 61.1%. In his time as a manager, Gerrard the Scottish Premiership during the 2020/21 season and was the runner-up in the Scottish League Cup during the 2019/20 season.

It is early days for the Liverpool legend in his management career but he will be seeking to do well, possibly even considering managing Liverpool at some point in his career, after Jurgen Klopp has left the club. The 42-year-old has made some positive signings so far this summer, which will enhance his Villa side.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Malacia;

Fred, McTominay;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;


Predicted Aston Villa Starting XI – 4-3-2-1


Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne;

Kamara, Luiz, Ramsey;

Bailey, Coutinho;


Manchester United Pre-Season Statistics

Goals: 3 – Anthony Martial, 2 – Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Fred, Own Goal, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri

Assists: 1 – Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek

Match Prediction

United are in good form at this stage of pre-season, winning all three of their matches so far, scoring 11 goals and conceding twice, keeping a clean sheet in the opening match against Liverpool. Villa have had a positive pre-season so far beating Walsall 4-0, Leeds United 1-0 and Brisbane Roar 1-0. Gerrard’s side will need to be able to cope with United.

Ten Hag has created something at United in just a short space of time, turning a team that struggled to score goals last season into one which seems intent to score for fun. Granted, it is pre-season and success is not measured here – match fitness and implementation of the style of play counts but it is a positive spell so far.

With two more matches left to play after this, both back in Europe, Ten Hag will be looking forward to implementing his other two signings; Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez who are both in Manchester with the latter seeking to get his deal completed at the club as soon as his work permit comes through.

United will fly back home to Manchester after this match and will then have a week to acclimatise and overcome jet lag before they face both Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in just over 24 hours at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo and Old Trafford in Manchester.

Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.