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Ratings: Fernandes, Greenwood and Cavani save the day for United at Villa; City’s title celebration delayed once again…

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bertrand Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match which meant that United had to come from behind again, winning 31 points from these situations in the league this season. Bruno Fernandes equalised form the penalty spot in the 52nd minute of the match with Mason Greenwood putting United ahead four minutes later. United scored a third through Edinson Cavani in the 87th minute just before Ollie Watkins got himself sent off for a dive, earning a second yellow card in the match. Three more points well deserved at the Villa.

It was a good start for United against Villa. Marcus Rashford had an attempt blocked in the fifth minute of the match which was played in by Paul Pogba. A minute later, Luke Shaw was on the attack for United, played in by Rashford but his shot was saved by Emiliano Martinez. Villa then had a chance through Anwar El Ghazi, whose shot was off target. Fred was then the next United player to have a chance, which forced another save from Martinez. United seemed determined to get something early on and were continuing to go for it. In the twelfth minute, both Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore had chances but both shots were blocked.

In the 16th minute, Bruno Fernandes had a chance to find his 27th goal of the season, playing in by Rashford and firing towards goal from the left of the six-yard box but it was off target. United were having plenty of chances in the early stages of the half but would need to do better. Villa took the lead in the 24th minute of the match, two minutes after Mason Greenwood’s effort, with Traore finding the back of the net with a stunning finish. United would need to battle back once again this season, which is something they have done time and time again to win matches both at home and on the road.

United were creating themselves many chances but Villa were also pressing forward. Fernandes had another shot on goal in the 35th minute of the match but it was too high to hit the target after Rashford played the ball into him. In the 40th minute of the match, Greenwood ran the ball towards the box and played it in to Pogba, who tried to find the back of the net with the Villa defence panicking and managing to clear the danger with Pogba still searching for a goal. United then started to press high up the pitch with Harry Maguire, who passed the ball to Pogba, who again lost possession with Villa then countering United’s attack.

United did not seem to get anything positive in the first half, having a fair few chances with nine shots one goal and four of those on target, also having the Lion’s share of possession but they needed to show more desire in the second half. At the end of the first half, Ollie Watkins was booked for a late challenge on Maguire with the United defender clearing the ball before the challenge came in. United needed to be wary of this Villa side, who did everything right in the first half. Perhaps Solskjaer would need to say something during the break to get his side fired up for the second half with Manchester City 45 minutes away from winning the league.

There were no changes from either side at the start of the second half but United would need to work much harder to get something from this match. United started to attack again, as they were doing in the first half and Pogba worked his way into the box, threatening on the ball. Douglas Luiz fouled the Frenchman and the referee awarded a penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted, scoring his 27th goal for the club in all competitions this season. City would need to wait before celebrating their title win. It was a great finish by Fernandes who made the goalkeeper dive in the wrong direction, hitting the back of the net at the near post.

Four minutes after equalising, United were ahead for the first time in this match. Aaron Wan-Bissaka played the ball into Greenwood, who then carried the ball before firing his left-footed shot from the right side of the box into the bottom corner of the net. It was Greenwood’s 11th goal of the season but also his 16th in the Premier League as a teenager, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record for the club which is great to see. In the 65th minute of the match, Greenwood was replaced by Edinson Cavani, with United seeking to see this match out and drive for the victory. Harry Maguire was booked in the 67th minute of the match with United still on top.

Maguire seemed to get a knock a few times and despite coming back on after some treatment, came back on but could not continue. Solskjaer replaced him with Eric Bailly, which was a shame as he was not able to play every minute in the Premier League, which he had done since he signed for the club. However, that was likely to end this week anyway. Hopefully the captain is fine to continue for the club later this week against Liverpool. It was expected that he would be rested against Leicester City anyway, as that was the impression the Solskjaer gave on Friday. In the 86th minute, Nemanja Matic replaced Fernandes with United looking to keep their lead.

Ollie Watkins tried to get one over Dean Henderson in the 89th minute but Henderson pulled his leg back as Watkins was diving. It was suggested that it was a penalty but the referee saw it the other way, as did VAR and the striker, already on a yellow from the first half was send off and will miss the next match for his club. There is no need to dive when you are losing. If a United player did this, every football supporter would be moaning about it. In this instance, many will say nothing. United deserved their win and will be looking ahead to the Leicester match now with one full day to recover before match day.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Unfortunate to concede the opening goal which saw Villa take the lead. Saw his side scored three in the second half, therefore winning 31 points from behind in the league this season. Also saw Watkins send off for a dive, aiming to win a penalty. Also prevented an own goal by Maguire.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Needs to offer more going forward. Got an assist for Greenwood's goal which put United ahead. His defensive ability cannot be questioned - that is the strong part of his game.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Should have stopped Traore ahead of his goal but acted weakly. Also gifted Watkins a chance to equalise, so he needs to brush up on his defence a bit more.

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5 Harry Maguire

Did well against Villa and seemed to be at the top of his game at times. Got forward when he could and led his side well. Seemed to get a knock in the second half and could not continue. Was replaced by Bailly in the 78th minute.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played well in attack and had a shot on goal, drawing a save. He should be proud of his performances this season. He is arguably the best left-back in the country right now.

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17 Fred

Despite his performances this season, this was not one of the better ones. Needs to buck his ideas up at the club or could find himself benched or sold in the summer if a better player comes along.

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39 Scott McTominay

Was not his best performance for United and I feel he should find a way to find his form as he has shown glimpses of that this season, especially if he wants to start in Gdansk in just over a fortnight.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had some involvement in the match but does not seem to have benefited from more than a week with no football. Got an assist for Cavani's goal at the end of the match but needs to start scoring himself.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Performed towards the best of his ability and had a few shots on goal in the first half. Scored the penalty, which saw United level in the 52nd minute of the match and helped United find another which happened minutes later. He was replaced by Matic in the 86th minute of the match with United seeing out their lead, but they scored a minute after the substitution, securing their lead and win.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well with Shaw just behind him and got into some good positions. Won the penalty which saw United go level. Lost the ball at times, but it happens.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Played well as the striker against Villa. Was unlucky at times but got United ahead in the 56th minute of the match, scoring his 11th goal of the season and breaking Rooney's record of 15 Premier League goals as a teenager at the club. He was replaced by Cavani in the 65th minute.

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Substitutes

7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 65'. Unplayable. Perhaps should have started but fatigue from Thursday needs to be managed, so it was right for him not to. Scored his 15th goal of the season, scoring his eighth goal in seven matches.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Maguire 78'. Needs a good defensive outing, which he might get on Tuesday. Made some last-ditch blocks and clearances.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Fernandes 86'. Came on to sure up the defence and did what he needed to do, even if it was a cameo appearance.

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Goals: Bertrand Traore 24′; Bruno Fernandes 52′ penalty, Mason Greenwood 56′, Edinson Cavani 87′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 56′, Marcus Rashford 87′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (Bailly 78′), Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes (Matic 86′), Pogba; Greenwood (Cavani 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Van de Beek

Bookings: Ollie Watkins 45+1′, 89′ s/o, John McGinn 79′; Harry Maguire 67′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Rashford leads the attack against Villa; Greenwood, Fernandes and Pogba in support

Manchester United return to Premier League action this afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

De Gea; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett;

Luiz, McGinn;

Traore, Barkley, El Ghazi;

Watkins

Substitutes:

Heaton; Elmohamady, Hause; Nakamba, Ramsey, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka; Wesley, Davis

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI against Aston Villa: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Rashford, Fernandes and Diallo to start; Cavani on the bench?

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

How United have faired against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Aston Villa in the Premier League at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson was rested against AS Roma on Thursday evening and has not played since the 0-0 draw with Leeds United almost a fortnight ago, so he will be raring to go against Aston Villa this weekend. So far this season, Henderson has made 23 appearances for United, conceding 16 goals and keeping 13 clean sheets. His commanding of his area is top class but he has some way to go before he’s considered as a world class goalkeeper. That said, there are supporters out there that would rather United broke a record to sign a new goalkeeper for the club – these people have no patience and don’t seem to want anything special. Imagine if these people were alive when the Class of 1992 emerged from the academy.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence did not look all that great against Roma on Thursday evening, conceding three goals altogether but two of them just three minutes apart. Eric Bailly played after not featuring for United before the last international break. Against Villa, who are safe in the Premier League, United could be faced with a few problems. Harry Maguire could break records this season playing every minute of Premier League football since he signed but these next three matches could put an end to that. Victor Lindelof needs to play alongside the captain with both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw playing in the fullback positions. United have done well this season but at this stage, they should be getting the results that need to end the season positively.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba

The midfield is a problem area for United. There are players at the club that do not suit the formation and others that need to play more football in order to settle in at the club. The pivot may not be the best formation to use but it is a formation that Solskjaer has utilised for much of his time at the club. Against Villa, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba should be starting. McTominay was rested against Roma on Thursday and is one of a small number of players who have been rested recently and will be able to cope with the week that lies ahead for United with three Premier League matches between Sunday and Thursday. United have the players, in varying abilities and hopefully there will be some sort of plan in rotation.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

With three Premier League matches in the next five days form the Villa clash, United will need to rotate their players. Amad Diallo should be given more time on the pitch, having played just 96 minutes of first team action this season, scoring one goal. At U23 level, he has played 270 minutes of football, scoring four goals and three assists, so there is some ability in there. Playing him now would be good for him and the team. Bruno Fernandes will start too with United needing another win in the league with him scoring 26 goals and 17 assists so far this season. Marcus Rashford should play in the left-wing role he has played in this season, where he has scored 20 goals and 13 assists. This could work for United against Villa.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood has ten goals and six assists to his name this season with half of his goals in the Premier League alone. Last season, Greenwood scored 17 goals and four assists, with ten goals coming in the Premier League alone, so if he plays his part in the remaining five matches of the season, he could match his goal tally from last season (in the league) and possibly seek to better it. United have six more matches until the end of the season with the UEFA Europa League final also added to their fixture list. Edinson Cavani is the best striker at the club this season, but having played on Thursday evening, I think he will be on the bench for this match. I reckon Marcus Rashford will be starting as the lone striker though.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani

Solskjaer will have just three substitutions in the Premier League for the remainder of the season and with three three matches over a five-day period, rotation will be key. David De Gea should be back on the bench after his heroics against Roma. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe could be available. In midfield, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could be called upon if they are needed (as they will at times over this five-day period). In attack, United will have the services of Edinson Cavani, whose 14 goals and four assists have helped a lot this season and with him being in form, also needing rest, his appearances this week could be largely from the bench, which will be good for United.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Aston Villa v Manchester United – Premier League; the start of a busy five days

Aston Villa -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Villa Park, Birmingham

Sunday 9 May 2021, KO 14:05 BST

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Jarred Gillett Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Villa Park to face Aston Villa. It will be the first Premier League match for the club since the clash with Liverpool was postponed and has since been rescheduled for the coming week when United will play three Premier League fixtures in five days. Earlier in the season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford and will be seeking the double over the Birmingham club – but Villa will be seeking to finish above Arsenal, which would be a good achievement for them, if it was possible. This will be a big match for United and a big week for the club.

United reached the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma, despite losing 3-2 on the night at the Stadio Olimpico. Edinson Cavani has scored seven goals in his last six matches and the only match he did not score in was against Leeds United which ended as a 0-0 draw. It is a good stage of the season for the Uruguayan who has 14 goals to his name so far this season and he is the player that could drag United into a second-placed finish in the league the season and be the difference between United ending with a trophy this season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer into his first final as manager.

Manchester United: LWDWWW

AS Roma 3-2 L, AS Roma 6-2 W, Leeds United 0-0 D, Burnley 3-1 W, Granada 2-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 W

Aston Villa: WDLLWL

Everton 2-1 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 D, Manchester City 2-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 L, Fulham 3-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 L

Top Scorers: Fernandes, Rashford, Cavani and Greenwood have scored 70 goals between them this season. Aston Villa have scored just 55 goals so far this season.

Manchester United Goals: 26 – Bruno Fernandes, 20 – Marcus Rashford, 14 – Edinson Cavani, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 6 – Paul Pogba, 5 – Own Goal, Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United were defeated for the first time in the Europa League on Thursday evening, losing 3-2 to AS Roma but winning 8-5 on aggregate, reaching the final of the competition this season where they will face Villarreal. United have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six matches. United have scored 16 goals, conceded seven – keeping two clean sheets. Edinson Cavani is starting to catch up to Marcus Rashford, with 14 goals scored this season (Rashford is on 20). He has scored seven goals in the last six matches, which is great form. United will be seeking another win against Villa this weekend, heading into another busy week.

Aston Villa Goals: 15 – Ollie Watkins, 9 – Anwar El Ghazi, 7 – Jack Grealish, 6 – Bertrand Traoré, 3 – Ross Barkley, 2 – Keinan Davis, Own Goal, Ezri Konsa, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings, Trézéguet, 1 – Louie Barry, Kortney Hause, Conor Hourihane

Villa have had a mixed season and a lot of their recent results could have been better if Jack Grealish was fit to play for the club. In their last six matches, they have won twice, drawn once and lost three times. They have scored nine goals, conceded ten goals and kept no clean sheets. That is not good form when having to face United, even if they are playing at home. Villa have beaten United three times in the Premier League, twice at Villa Park but the last time was on the 19 August 1995 with Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke scoring the goals for Villa and David Beckham scoring a consolation for United.

Team News: Three players likely to be out for United with three also expected to be out for Villa – this match will be tough for both teams but United should have the edge over Villa.

Phil Jones (knee), Anthony Martial (knee) and Daniel James (other) have all been ruled out of the clash with Villa this weekend in the Premier League. United have not been hit with any other injuries ahead of the three Premier League matches in the next week (Aston Villa, Leicester City and Liverpool) and there will have to be rotation during this week as not every player will have 90 minutes in them. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Amad Diallo and Scott McTominay were all rested against Roma with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw both coming off at half time – so Solskjaer has options for this match.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan (knee) has been ruled out of the clash with United at Villa Park on Sunday. Morgan Sanson (knee) has a 50% chance and Jack Grealish (calf/shin) has a 25% chance of being available for the visit of United, which does not look all that good, unless Dean Smith has something up his sleeve. Villa have been missing Grealish over the past few months and if he can be fit for the clash with United, it would be a big boost for both the player and the club at this stage of the season. Villa sit in tenth place in the league, at the time of writing and they could finish above Arsenal if they play their cards right.

Predicted Starting XI: Mason Greenwood to lead the line against Aston Villa? Edinson Cavani on the bench after Thursday’s brace which saw him score seven goals in six matches.

Solskjaer will need to rotate his side from Thursday evening, also keeping in mind that the club will face Leicester City at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, then Liverpool at the Theatre of Dreams on Thursday evening. It is a possibility that Harry Maguire may not play in all Premier League matches since he signed for the club, which could see the record remain with Gary Pallister. Mason Greenwood could lead the line in the match with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Amad Diallo supporting him. Diallo will need to play at some point and there is no time like the present. Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Diallo will be rested after not featuring for the club on Thursday evening. Tuesday might be a different problem though.

Match Prediction: United and Villa have played 51 Premier League matches with United winning 36, drawing 12 and losing just three times.

United and Villa have played 51 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 36 times, drawing 12 times with Villa winning three times which really is not a good record against the Red Devils. United have scored 94 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. Villa have scored just 30 goals, winning one penalty and coring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping just six. In terms of discipline, United players have been shown 74 yellow cards with three red cards being shown. Villa players have been shown 71 yellow cards with three red cards also being shown.

Earlier this season, United beat Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial opening the scoring in the 40th minute of the match then Bertrand Traore equalising in the 58th minute and Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty in the 61st minute of the match which got the win for United. In this fixture last season, United won the match 3-0 with Fernandes scoring a 27th minute penalty, Mason Greenwood scoring United’s second five minutes into added time at the end of the first half and Paul Pogba securing the win in the 58th minute of the match. United did play Villa in pre-season at Villa Park, losing 1-0 which put United on a poor start to the season.

Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Martial and Fernandes fire United to victory; De Gea, Pogba, Fred and Wan-Bissaka played well – Liverpool now have a lot pressure on them

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford in the first Premier League match of 2021. Anthony Martial opened the scoring with a header in the 40th minute of the match (his fifth goal of the season), assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Villa then equalised in the 58th minute through Bertrand Traore, assisted by Jack Grealish. Minutes later, Paul Pogba was taken down in the box by Douglas Luiz and a penalty was given which Bruno Fernandes stepped up for, scoring his 15th goal of the season. Villa pressure United at the end of the match with United having chances to extend their lead.

United got off to a good start against Villa, getting on the attack right away but were unable to make it count in the early stages of the match. In the tenth minute, Anthony Martial forced a save from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez with Harry Maguire having a chance a minute or so later with the goalkeeper picking the ball and dealing with the threat. At the other end of the pitch David De Gea made a good save to deny the visitors from gaining an early goal, giving a corner to Villa, which Jack Grealish took and De Gea punched out of danger. Another corner was given away, which was dealt with by United, putting them on the attack.

United were getting in some positive positions early in this match with United having another chance on goal with Paul Pogba on the advance, allowing Fred to fire his shot on goal, which was rising over the crossbar. Villa then got forward around the 20 minute stage of the match with United gathering possession, giving away another corner, which was cleared by Scott McTominay. Villa started to get comfortable around the 24th minute, getting forward and applying pressure. Eric Bailly blocked an effort to break forward, giving away another corner, which amounted to nothing but put United on the attack once again.

United had another chance before the 25th minute with Marcus Rashford running into the box, firing at goal with the shot being blocked and Bruno Fernandes collection the ball, playing across the box to Pogba, who fired a shot wide of the target. United won a corner of their own in the 29th minute after Pogba was the last United player with the ball, his effort being blocked and sent out of play. The corner came to nothing. Pogba seemed to receive a whack to the face in the 30th minute by Tyrone Mings. The Frenchman’s lip was bleeding, he got some treatment and was able to continue for his club.

Fernandes has an opportunity to break the deadlock in the 37th minute of the match, being played the ball in the area of the box and firing his effort wide of the target. It seems to be the story of the match with both sides having the chances but unable to do anything to get them ahead in the match. Bertrand Traore seemed to be fouled on the edge of the box by Luke Shaw, but went down way too easily. Traore had a mare with the free-kick. United opened the scoring in the 40th minute of the match with Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossing into the box, beating Mings with Anthony Martial heading home at the near post to put United ahead.

There were no changes at the start of the second half of the match with United looking to pull away and take all three points on offer this evening to add some pressure to Liverpool, who do not play until Monday evening. Harry Maguire was booked for a challenge in the 49th minute of the match, the first card to be shown this evening at the Theatre of Dreams. Villa started to get themselves back into the game, pressuring United in their own area. De Gea was tested once again with Ollie Watkins having a shot on goal and the Spaniard athletically pushed the ball over the crossbar to nullify the Villa threat.

Villa equalised in the 58th minute of the match with Wan-Bissaka not defending as he should have. This allowed Grealish to play the ball into Traore, who was in the box, beating De Gea from close range. Eric Bailly was booked in the minutes before the equaliser, seeing both Maguire and the Ivorian on yellow cards. United won a penalty after Douglas Luiz took out Pogba in the box. VAR also ruled the penalty which Fernandes took, scoring his 15th goal of the season. United were still attacking to get the result that they need to keep the pressure on Liverpool, which will show a massive improvement this season.

Solskjaer made his first substitution in the 65th minute with Nemanja Matic replacing Scott McTominay, who played a good midfield battle for United with Matic now helping more defensively to keep United on top in this match. United kept searching for another goal to give them a cushion. Pogba was unlucky as was Fernandes in the 77th minute of the match with the Villa keeper tipping his fierce effort over the crossbar, giving United a corner, which resulted in another shot, this time from Marcus Rashford with United seeking out their third goal of the match. This is a very attacking United, which should please the supporters.

Villa added some pressure in the last ten minutes of the match, winning a free-kick in the 83rd minute with Mings advancing but was narrowly wide of the target to level the scoreline for the visitors. Solskjaer made his second substitution in the 87th minute of the match with Daniel James replacing Fernandes. Almost immediately the Welsh winger got into the Villa box, launching his shot at Martinez, which did not really test the goalkeeper and was easy for his to gather. In the final minutes of the match, before added time, both Luke Shaw and Matic were booked. Five minutes of time was added onto the end of the match.

Villa threw everything they had at a second equaliser in the match to share the points, but it was not working for them. In the fourth minute of added time, Solskjaer made his third and final substitution with Axel Tuanzebe replacing Fred, putting an extra defender on the pitch to gather up the pressure laid on by the visitors. It did not work for Villa as United won all three points and now were level one points with Liverpool, separated by goal difference (plus eight) with the Scouse team still to face United this season and with United having that match against Burnley in hand as Liverpool will have played one more on Monday evening.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Made a great save to deny Villa in the first half of the match, making another to deny them again early in the second half. Commanded his area well with Villa adding late pressure with a free-kick with Mings on the advance but narrowly wide.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Got his second assist of the season after playing the ball into Martial who headed the first goal in the 40th minute of the match. Defensively, he did what he needed to, offering plenty in attack too. Made a mistake for Villa's goal - he should have been better there.

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3 Eric Bailly

Played well defensively and blocked many chances that Villa had. Was booked in the second half, which was unfortunate as I think he got the ball.

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5 Harry Maguire

Booked in the second half of the match meaning he is one more away from a suspension so will need to keep his head. Played a good game defensively and led his side to the finish, which is expected.

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23 Luke Shaw

Played a good game defensively and got forward a lot of the time. United were using both he and Wan-Bissaka as the attacking width at times, which seemed to work for United. Shaw was booked in the late stages of the match.

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39 Scott McTominay

Did well in the midfield but did not get a goal or an assist, which was not really expected to be fair. Came off in the 65th minute as United had just taken the lead again with Matic replacing him.

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17 Fred

Had a good game and could have scored in the first half after Pogba left the ball with the Brazilian running in and striking it. However, it was always rising over the crossbar, which was a shame. Played an energetic match and will win plaudits for his performances this season.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played some good football in midfield and was one of the players involved in United taking the lead five minutes from the end of the first half. He has a good foot on him for scoring a goal but it was not working for the Frenchman. He did win a penalty for United, which saw his club take the lead for the second time in the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Scored his 15th goal of the season with another penalty after Pogba was fouled in the box. The Portuguese magnifico had a good game. pulling the string for United at times and covering a lot of the attacking areas of the pitch. Had a fierce strike on goal late in the game but the keeper tipped it over the crossbar for a corner. Was replaced by James in the 87th minute of the match and did not seem to happy about it with United pressured in the match, despite still leading.

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9 Anthony Martial

Scored his fifth goal of the season by firing United ahead in the 40th minute of the match. The Frenchman will need to keep scoring in order to catch up to Fernandes and Rashford this season.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Had plenty of chances throughout the match but did not seem to be lucky with them. He kept pressuring Villa in the late stages of the match as United looked to tip the pressure on Liverpool.

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Substitutes

31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced McTominay 65'. Came on to cover the defence in midfield with McTominay tiring in the second half.

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21 Daniel James

Replaced Fernandes 87'. Came on late to add some pace and pressure to the Villa defence. Almost instantly got up front and unleashed a shot towards the goalkeeper but did not get a lot on it and it was easy to gather.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Replaced Fred 90+4'. Came on at the death to add more defensive ability to thwart the Villa pressure as they sought another equaliser.

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Goals: Anthony Martial 40′, Bruno Fernandes 62′; Bertrand Traore 58′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 40′; Jack Grealish 58′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay (Matic 65′), Fred (Tuanzebe 90+4′), Pogba; Fernandes (James 87′); Martial, Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Telles; Mata, Lingard, Van de Beek; Greenwood

Bookings: Harry Maguire 49′, Eric Bailly 55′, Luke Shaw 89′, Nemanja Matic 90′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial and Rashford lead the line with Fernandes in behind; McTominay, Fred and Pogba in midfield

Manchester United will face Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League this evening with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looking to keep chase on league leaders Liverpool after rising to second in the table with a last-minute 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening. United have scored 14 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets in their last six matches, winning four and drawing twice. Their form in December did not start too well but ended on a high. United will need to get a good start to football in 2021 with the coronavirus pandemic starting to take hold once again.

Villa are currently fifth in the Premier League with 26 points, four fewer than United. They have done well this season after almost being relegated last season, which shows the threat that they have in the team. However, three players are close to earning suspensions with Matt Targett, Jack Grealish and John McGinn all one yellow card away from a one-match suspension in the league. United season will continue to be busy with up to eight matches to be played in January, including a Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City. At this stage of the season, nearing the half way point, United should be getting ready to fight for trophies.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred, Pogba;

Fernandes;

Martial, Rashford

Substitutes:

Henderson; Telles, Tuanzebe; Mata, Lingard, James, Matic, Van de Beek; Greenwood

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett;

Luiz, McGinn;

Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi;

Watkins

Substitutes:

Heaton; Taylor, Guilbert, El Mohamady, Hause; Hourihane, Nakamba, Ramsey; Davis

United and Villa have met 50 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 35 times, drawing 12 times and losing three times. United have scored 92 goals against Villa, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Villa have scored 29 goals, winning one penalties and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping six. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 70 yellow cards with three red cards whereas Villa have been shown 71 yellow cards and three red cards. United will be looking to continue winning as they rose up to second in the Premier League after beating Wolves.

In this fixture at Old Trafford last season, played on the 1 December 2019, it was a 2-2 draw with Jack Grealish opening the scoring in the 11th minute and Tom Heaton scoring an own goal in the 42nd minute to equalise. United took the lead throat Victor Lindelof in the 64th minute of the match with Tyrone Mings equalising two minutes later. At Villa Park inn a match which was played on the 9 July 2020, United beat Villa 3-0 with Bruno Fernandes opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the 47th minute, Marcus Rashford doubling United lead five minutes into added a=time at the end of the half and Paul Pogba sealing the win in the 58th minute.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Paul Pogba to start with Bruno Fernandes on the bench giving the Frenchman some ground to make up and the Portuguese magnifico a rest?

Manchester United will face Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League on New Year’s Day with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looking to keep chase on league leaders Liverpool after rising to second in the table with a last-minute 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening. United have scored 14 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets in their last six matches, winning four and drawing twice. Their form in December did not start too well but ended on a high. United will need to get a good start to football in 2021 with the coronavirus pandemic starting to take hold once again.

Villa are currently fifth in the Premier League with 26 points, four fewer than United. They have done well this season after almost being relegated last season, which shows the threat that they have in the team. However, three players are close to earning suspensions with Matt Targett, Jack Grealish and John McGinn all one yellow card away from a one-match suspension in the league. United season will continue to be busy with up to eight matches to be played in January, including a Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City. At this stage of the season, nearing the half way point, United should be getting ready to fight for trophies.

How United have faired against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

United and Villa have met 50 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 35 times, drawing 12 times and losing three times. United have scored 92 goals against Villa, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Villa have scored 29 goals, winning one penalties and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping six. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 70 yellow cards with three red cards whereas Villa have been shown 71 yellow cards and three red cards. United will be looking to continue winning as they rose up to second in the Premier League after beating Wolves.

In this fixture at Old Trafford last season, played on the 1 December 2019, it was a 2-2 draw with Jack Grealish opening the scoring in the 11th minute and Tom Heaton scoring an own goal in the 42nd minute to equalise. United took the lead throat Victor Lindelof in the 64th minute of the match with Tyrone Mings equalising two minutes later. At Villa Park inn a match which was played on the 9 July 2020, United beat Villa 3-0 with Bruno Fernandes opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the 47th minute, Marcus Rashford doubling United lead five minutes into added a=time at the end of the half and Paul Pogba sealing the win in the 58th minute.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Aston Villa in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Friday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

United have not been beaten competitively by Aston Villa since the 1-0 defeat in the Premier League on the 12 December 2009, more than 11 years ago. Since then, United and Villa have played a total of 16 matches with United winning 12 and drawing four. David De Gea started against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening, a 1-0 victory for United and he will be expected to start once again as United look to take advantage of Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Newcastle United, which sees United just three points adrift of the league leaders, with a game in hand. United should be confident of their improvement, which sadly, some seem to ignore.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United kept their eighth clean sheet of the season in the 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening and will be seeking to keep another in the first match of 2021 when they welcome Aston Villa to the Theatre of Dreams. Aaron Wan-Bissaka started against Wolves and he should be available to start for the second time this week. Luke Shaw was on the bench against Wolves, coming on at the start of the second half, which should see him able to start for this match. Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire should both keep their places for this important match as they both did well against Wolves.

Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

Solskjaer has more often than not used a midfield pivot in the 4-2-3-1 formation since he became the manager of the club. In the past few matches Fred and Scott McTominay have been paired together with Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Against Villa, Fred and McTominay could add something much like they did when United beat Leeds United 6-2 the weekend before Christmas. United will obviously have Donny van de Beek on the bench, who will be looking to get more minutes under his belt this season and could come off the bench in the second half to keep things fresh.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford

The area is where most of the goals have come from when Bruno Fernandes has been on the pitch. The Portuguese magnifico will need to be rested sooner rather than later and keeping him fresh to face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final will be important to playing Paul Pogba ahead of him against Villa could become a masterstroke as the Frenchman has done well in this position in the past. Mason Greenwood (three goals and three assists) and Marcus Rashford (14 goals and four assists) will play on either side with United seeking to respond fo Liverpool’s 0-0 draw against Newcastle United on Wednesday evening.

Forwards: Anthony Martial

The Frenchman has scored four goals and four assists this season and needs to start putting the string at the club and finding the goals that he scored last season. United need a striker up top that can create and score goals and find all the best places on the pitch to do just that. At this moment in time, Edinson Cavani does that and Martial will need to learn or find himself playing on the left-wing once again, behind Marcus Rashford, who has performed well in that position this season and last. Martial knows how to score goals and will need to get himself in the zone as United will be seeking to keep pushing on and adding pressure to Liverpool.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Alex Telles, Axel Tuanzebe, Teden Mengi; Juan Mata, Bruno Fernandes, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek; Edinson Cavani

United will be able to name nine substitutes in the Premier League for the remainder of the season, using three of them but in the Carabao Cup, only seven can be names with three being used with different rules in the Emirates FA Cup with up to ten substitutes able to be used. Against Villa, Dean Henderson will remain on the bench for United, should he be needed. In defence, Alex Telles, Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi could be used, if needed. In midfield, Juan Mata. Bruno Fernandes, Facundo Pellistri and Donny van de Beek should be available with Edinson Cavani the only forward on the bench for this match.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Manchester United -v- Aston Villa- Premier League – Another cagey affair leading to a hard-fought victory?

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Friday 1 January 2021, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Michael Oliver Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Lee Betts

Manchester United will face Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League on New Year’s Day with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looking to keep chase on league leaders Liverpool after rising to second in the table with a last-minute 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening. United have scored 14 goals, conceding six and keeping three clean sheets in their last six matches, winning four and drawing twice. Their form in December did not start too well but ended on a high. United will need to get a good start to football in 2021 with the coronavirus pandemic starting to take hold once again.

Villa are currently fifth in the Premier League with 26 points, four fewer than United. They have done well this season after almost being relegated last season, which shows the threat that they have in the team. However, three players are close to earning suspensions with Matt Targett, Jack Grealish and John McGinn all one yellow card away from a one-match suspension in the league. United season will continue to be busy with up to eight matches to be played in January, including a Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City. At this stage of the season, nearing the half way point, United should be getting ready to fight for trophies.

Manchester United: WDWWWD

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Leicester City 2-2 D, Everton 2-0 W, Leeds United 6-2 W, Sheffield United 3-2 W, Manchester City 0-0 D

Aston Villa: DWWDWL

Chelsea 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 3-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 3-0 W, Burnley 0-0 D, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, West Ham United 2-1 L

Top Scorers: Aston Villa have scored 33 goals this season with United scoring 53; Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford lead with 14 goals each with Ollie Watkins scoring eight for Villa.

Manchester United Goals: 14 – Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, 4 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 3 – Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, 2 – Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, 1 – Own Goal, Donny van de Beek, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United have continued their good form and are now undefeated in their last six matches in all competitions. The exit from the UEFA Champions League is all but a distant memory with United looking to better their Premier League position rising into the top five before Christmas and now sitting second in the league still with a game in hand which was missed on the opening weekend of the season. Solskjaer’s side have scored 14 goals, conceding six, keeping three clean sheets; winning four times and drawing twice. The poor start to the season has been made up on with United competing with Liverpool now.

Aston Villa Goals: 8 – Ollie Watkins, 6 – Anwar El Ghazi, Jack Grealish, 3 – Bertrand Traoré, 2 – Ross Barkley, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, 1 – Keinan Davis, Kortney Hause, Conor Hourihane, John McGinn

Aston Villa started the season in fine form after nearly being relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season. The Birmingham club has been beaten just once in their last six matches, winning three times and drawing twice. In the last six matches, Villa have scored nine goals, conceded three and kept four clean sheets, which is a better defensive record than United in the same number of matches. Villa are not going to be a pushover and United will need to be at their best keeping in mind this fixture at Old Trafford was a 2-2 draw last season with United winning 3-0 at Villa Park.

Team News: Both United and Villa have two players that have been ruled out with one player a piece that could still be involved, providing they pass fitness tests.

Phil Jones (knee) and Marcos Rojo (calf) have both been ruled out of facing Villa at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day. Victor Lindelof (lower back) missed the 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening and is still receiving treatment for his injury, according to Solskjaer’s comments ahead of the Wolves match. He has just a 25% chance of featuring against Villa and could spend a bit of time on the sidelines. No decision has bee made to how long he could be out of the severity of the injury that he has. United have a number of youth players training with the first team, giving some depth, which may see some of them involved soon.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Hassan (thigh) and Wesley Moraes Ferreira da Silva (knee) have both been ruled out of the visit to the Theatre of Dreams on New Year’s Day, although the latter may come through a late fitness test if he has showed signs of recovery. Ross Barkley (thigh) has been out of action recently and currently has a 50% chance of featuring against United. Tyrone Mings was suspended for the 1-1 draw with Chelsea earlier in the week and will be eligible to feature against United, if selected. Villa seem to be in a positive position ahead of this clash, which could well be a tough one for United.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against Villa? Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield?

Solskjaer will need to rotate a few players for this match, keeping them for the the challenges ahead of them in the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup against Manchester City and Watford respectively. This match against Villa is going to be an important one as United look to add some pressure to league leaders Liverpool this season after they won the league so easily last season. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, in the advanced role and Mason Greenwood could lead the attack with Scott McTominay and Fred in the pivot. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could form the defence ahead of David De Gea.

Match Prediction: 50 matches have been played between United and Villa with United winning 35 times, undefeated in 47 matches, losing just three.

United and Villa have met 50 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 35 times, drawing 12 times and losing three times. United have scored 92 goals against Villa, winning four penalties and scoring three of them. Villa have scored 29 goals, winning one penalties and scoring it. United have kept 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping six. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 70 yellow cards with three red cards whereas Villa have been shown 71 yellow cards and three red cards. United will be looking to continue winning as they rose up to second in the Premier League after beating Wolves.

In this fixture at Old Trafford last season, played on the 1 December 2019, it was a 2-2 draw with Jack Grealish opening the scoring in the 11th minute and Tom Heaton scoring an own goal in the 42nd minute to equalise. United took the lead throat Victor Lindelof in the 64th minute of the match with Tyrone Mings equalising two minutes later. At Villa Park inn a match which was played on the 9 July 2020, United beat Villa 3-0 with Bruno Fernandes opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the 47th minute, Marcus Rashford doubling United lead five minutes into added a=time at the end of the half and Paul Pogba sealing the win in the 58th minute.

Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

Review & Ratings: Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba destroyed Aston Villa in 3-0 romp at Villa Park; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be thrilled, Dean Smith won’t be

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park in the Premier League on Thursday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased that his team has stretched their unbeaten run to 17 matches now, onto a flier for the remainder of the season. Bruno Fernandes scored his eighth goal fo the season with Mason Greenwood scored his 16th and Paul Pogba scoring his first of the season in a cracking victory.

It was a slow start for United with some frustration showing with Villa getting stuck in on occasion. United won a penalty in the 26th minute of the match after Ezri Konsa took Bruno Fernandes out just inside the box. The penalty was given and checked by VAR. The Portuguese magnifico took the spot kick, firing United into the leas with his eight goal of the season so far. 1-0 to United and Villa looked out of it.

United doubled their lead in the fifth minute of added time at the end of the first half with Mason Greenwood scoring is 16th goal of the season. The 18-year-old hot them on the counter. Anthony Martial did well to win possession, releasing Greenwood, exchanging passes with the Frenchman before beating Pepe Reina at his near post. 2-0 to United and surely Villa were now out of the game and on their way out of the Premier League.

The first half ended with United 2-0 up and Villa needing to find a way back into the match, which seemed unlikely. In there 58th minute of the match, United scored their third goal of the game with Paul Pogba scoring his first goal of the season. Fernandes took the corner, finding Pogba on the edge of the box, him having all the time in the world to pick out the bottom corner with Reina looking useless. 3-0 to United.

Solskjaer made a double substitution in the 66th minute of the match with Brandon Williams and Scott McTominay replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Nemanja Matic. Five minutes later, another substitution was made with Fred replacing Fernandes, who had a goal and an assist in the game. A double change then followed in the 79th minute with Odion Ighalo and Daniel James replacing Martial and Greenwood.

United will not have a three day rest before facing Southampton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Monday evening, chasing down Leicester City in the race to break into the top four this season. Leicester will need to keep winning to keep United at bay, otherwise it could be a costly finish for them this season with them potentially missing out on a UEFA Champions League place next season.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Another clean sheet for the Spanish goalkeeper, which will help build his confidence for the rest of the season which lies ahead. Its was a big appearance figure for him tonight, 399 appearances, surpassing Peter Schmeichel's record at the club with only Alex Stepney ahead of him with 539 appearances.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

The fullback had a good game against Villa and could have opened up his account with a goal of his own, but it was not to be. He is a great addition to this United team, providing a lot of what the team needs to kick on. He was replaced by Brandon Williams in the 66th minute of the match.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The Iceman recovered from a back injury to start against Villa, keeping a clean sheet and not really having a lot to do at the back. He will be happy with his sides performance.

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5 Harry Maguire

It was a quiet night for the captain, seeing his team win 3-0 against Villa, the fourth game in a row with United scoring three goals of more and more importantly another clean sheet, which is even better.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back played well but I am sure some will criticise him for something that he did wrong somewhere. 17 matches unbeaten for United, which is a great result and something this team should be proud of.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian provided what United needed from the start of the game, continuing his run of good form. It might have been frustrating for United for the first 20-odd minutes of the match, but they got the first goal, scoring twice more. He was replaced in the 66th minute by Scott McTominay.

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6 Paul Pogba

The Frenchman played well against Villa and got himself on the scoresheet for the first time this season, which was a great feeling for him, assisted by Bruno Fernandes from the corner. It is good to see this Pogba back and hopefully kicking on to achieve something in this exciting new era.

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11 Mason Greenwood

The 18-year-old scored his 16th goal of the season against Villa, putting his club 2-0 up in added time at the end of the first half. It has been a great season for the teenager. He was replaced in the 78th minute by Daniel James.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

The Portuguese midfielder opened the scoring for United after winning a penalty, scoring it to put United 1-0 up in the game. He then assisted for Paul Pogba's goal, which saw `United go 3-0 up against Villa. It was a MOTM performance for me, again. He was replaced in the 71st minute by Fred.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The England forward scored but was offside. It was unfortunate for him. He did not need to be the star of the show with the goals coming from elsewhere in the game, which takes the pressure off of him.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman could have scored in the game, hitting the bar instead, which will have frustrated him - actually it did, which was good to see as he is showing his passion and upset for not getting on the scoresheet. He was replaced by Odion Ighalo in the 79th minute of the match and did not look happy, which might inspire him for Monday's match against Southampton.

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Substitutes

33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 66'. Played at right-back once again and did not do to badly. It is clear that Williams has something to offer at both right and left-back, which is great for Solskjaer and creates more depth in the squad. He's a passionate player and fits into this team superbly.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Matic 66'. Came on to give Nemanja Matic a break after playing a lot of football since the restart. Played well and got involved in the game, despite no further goals scored after the 58th minute.

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17 Fred

Replaced Fernandes 71'. I feel the Brazilian needs to do a lot more to get into the team now with the quality in the squad. He's a squad player now, nothing more unless he produces something magnificent.

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25 Odion Ighalo

Replaced Martial 79'. Came on late in the game with United 3-0 up. They kept attacking Villa and pushing them for the remainder of the match.

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21 Daniel James

Replaced Greenwood 79'. The Welsh winger came on and played a part in the teams victory despite no goals being scored after his introduction. It is good to see him get more minutes on the pitch this season.

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Goals: Bruno Fernandes 27′ penalty, Mason Greenwood 45+5′, Paul Pogba 58′

Assists: Anthony Martial 45+5′, Bruno Fernandes 58′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 66′), Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic (McTominay 66′), Pogba; Greenwood (James 79′), Fernandes (Fred 71′), Rashford; Martial (Ighalo 79′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly; Mata, Pereira

Bookings: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 40′, Nemanja Matic 45+5′, Fred 87′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Greenwood to test Aston Villa’s resolve; Pogba and Matic in midfield

Manchester United will be back on the road on Thursday evening when the face relegation candidates Aston Villa at Villa Park. United have been in pretty good form since the restart of the season and have recently beaten Bournemouth 5-2 and Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0. Villa find themselves 19th in the Premier League, closer to safety than Norwich City but still likely to be relegated this season, which would be a shame.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be full of confidence ahead of their trip to Villa Park, after nearly five years since their last match in the iconic traditional stadium. United have not been beaten by Villa since a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on the 12 December 2009 with Gabby Agbonlahor scoring the only goal of that match. Villa should fear United, which could contribute to their demise.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Matic, Pogba;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Williams; Mata, Pereira, Fred, James, McTominay; Ighalo

Aston Villa:

Reina;

Ngoyo, Hause, Mings, Taylor;

El Ghazi, Luiz, McGinn, Trezeguet;

Grealish, Samatta

Substitutes:

Nyland; Lansbury, Makamba, Hourihane, Jota, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Vassilev, Davis

United and Villa have played 49 times in the Premier League with United winning 34, drawing 12 and losing three times. In total, United have scored 89 goals conceding 29. Both United have kept 26 clean sheets with Villa keeping six. United have been awarded three penalties, scoring two, with Villa awarded one and scoring it. In total, United have received 67 yellow cards to Villa’s 67 with both teams having three red cards.

Back in December, it was a 2-2 draw between the two sides at the Theatre of Dreams with Jack Grealish opening the scoring in the 11th minute, Tom Heaton scoring an own goal to equalise in the 42nd minute, then United taking the lead in the 64th minute through Victor Lindelof with Villa equalising through Tyrone Mings in the 66th minute of the match. It was an unfortunate draw for United but a good result for Villa.

copyright: JW