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Ratings: Ronaldo’s penalty gave United the win against Norwich; De Gea MOTM, Dalot and Telles were brilliant

Manchester United beat Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Saturday evening. Just one goal separated the two sides which was scored from the penalty spot by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo in the 75th minute of the match. It was not a great display by Ralf Rangnick’s side but David De Gea could hold his head high, making save after save to deny Norwich from getting a goal, which could have seen United lose this match. There is lots of work required for this United team and they need to become much better than this. Brentford will not be a push over on Tuesday evening.

It was a slow start for United against Norwich. United’s pressing was not the best and you would expect something better from a team that, at least the majority, had a week off. It showed that time was needed to get this United side ticking away. I’m not sure the 4-2-2 formation is the best fit for United. Scott McTominay had a shot on goal in the 11th minute of the match, but it was blocked. Three minutes later, Alex Telles had a shot which was high with Tim Krill making the save to deny United from opening the scoring. In the 21st minute of the match, Grant Hanley was replaced by Jacob Sørensen because of an injury.

Between the 32nd and 39th minutes of the match, Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford all had chances on goal with the first two being saved and Rashford missing his effort. It seemed that United, despite their experience on the pitch, needed to try much harder to break the deadlock. In the resulting minutes both Lukas Rupp and Teemu Pukki has chances on goal which were blocked. This Norwich side, despite being cemented to the bottom of the Premier League table, were up for the fight, as they were in the last match here between them and United.

Towards the end of the half, which looked set to be a 0-0 draw, Harry Maguire had a shot on goal, played in by Sancho, but the save was made. It seemed that this was going to be a bad day at the office for United. Improvement needed to come but there was plenty of time to instil that with Rangnick at the helm. United needed to ensure they get wins in these matches in order to give that time as if the players continue to hide, like some of them have done for more than one manager, this manager would not lose and players would be shifted on from the club, whatever the cost would be for the club.

There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. United needed to take this chance to get the three points up for grabs as losing to this Norwich side would be more embarrassing than the 4-1 defeat to Watford, who have failed to win a match since that victory over United. McTominay had a shot blocked two minutes into the second half with Przemyslaw Placheta seeing David De Gea make a fine save to deny him in the same minute. It seemed that both teams were up for getting ahead in this match and it would be a survival of the fittest. Fred had a shot in the 50th minute, which was against blocked.

Bruno Fernandes tried to feed Rashford a through ball in the 54th minute but he was ruled offside, ending the attack there and then. Pukki had another chance in the 57th minute, which was saved by De Gea, who was showing his ability in goal in this match. Sørensen had a header from close-range blocked by before the hour mark of the match and Rashford missed again two minutes later. Rangnick made his first substitution in the 67th minute of the match with Mason Greenwood replacing Sancho. Todd Cantwell replaced Placheta in the 70th minute of the match with Norwich seeking to freshen their attack.

United won a penalty in the 73rd minute of the match after Max Aarons fouled Ronaldo. The penalty was delayed as Victor Lindelof seemed injured and unable to continue. Rangnick sent Eric Bailly on in replacement for the Swede. Ronaldo converted the penalty, beating Krul and scoring his 13th goal of the season. United would need to weather the storm Norwich would provide knowing that this United side were not tweaked in a way that was going to punish them. It was a good finish for Ronaldo, who is outscoring players younger than him and always seems to be the main critique for the pundits who are hurt by United.

Norwich tried to get back into the game, but failed. Diogo Dalot was booked in the 77th minute of the match before Donny van de Beek replaced Fernandes in the 88th minute of the match as the final substitute for United. Rangnick’s United seemed to get the smash and grab in this match, earning them all three points. It was not a convincing victory though. With five minute of added time, United got the win. They would need to be much better in their clash with Brentford on Tuesday evening, otherwise they could suffer their first defeat under the German, which would not be good at the time United needed to fight to get back into contention.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

MOTM for this match. Had little to do in the first half. Made two great saves from Pukki and Kabak which could have seen United lose if they went in. De Gea is the man that occupies this position at this time, even with Henderson challenging.

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20 Diogo Dalot

Consistent and reliable. The Portuguese right-back has managed three great performances in a row. He was a resurgent attacker, but was not looked at too often by his teammates. Should keep his place going forward. Wan-Bissaka needs to find much improvement to take him out of the team.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Was pressured by Pukki. It was not a good match for him. Came off injured as United won and scored a penalty. Bailly replaced him in the 74th minute of the match.

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5 Harry Maguire

Slow with the ball at his feet and did not get forward much to help the front six, as he has done before. Defended well, especially from corners. United to be more resurgent at the back, helping the attack more often.

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27 Alex Telles

He seems to be performing well, which might give Shaw some problems. Gave chance creation from crosses and forced a save on the crossbar from a free-kick. Seems to have so much potential.

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17 Fred

Disciplined. Seemed to bail out Lindelof, which he should not be expected to do. He did not make a big impression in the match, as he did against Palace. But he was worth his selection today.

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39 Scott McTominay

Was positive on the ball and did what he needed to do in order to protect the back four. Had some shots on goal and it was his cross that led to the penalty. Many don't rate him but three manager's have now, which say everything.

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25 Jadon Sancho

He was a threat on the ball and needed to get it more often. Should not have been the first change in this match, but was replaced by Greenwood in the 67th minute of the match.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Seemed to be unreliable on the ball - which has been a problem recently. He's a great player and should be better than this. Should perhaps be on the bench on Tuesday as United need to find plan B for the attacking positions. Replaced by Van de Beek in the 88th minute of the match.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Should not have started. His form is terrible. He was sloppy with the ball, unable to hit a shot that puzzled the keeper. He did create a chance for Ronaldo, but he should be better than this.

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Faced Krul and had a shot, which the goalkeeper pushed away. Seemed like he did not have a break this week. He scored the penalty, his 13th goal of the season but also missed a chance. A win is a win though.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced Sancho 67'. Brought on some energy for the attack but he did relatively little whilst on the pitch.

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3 Eric Bailly

Replaced Lindelof 74'. Came on to replaced an injured Lindelof. After playing to a good standard against Young Boys on Wednesday, he did not seem to get into this match.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Fernandes 88'. Came on too late in the game to make much of an impact. Could replace Fernandes in the starting XI against Brentford on Tuesday?

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Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 75′ penalty

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof (Bailly 74′), Maguire, Telles; Fred, McTominay; Sancho (Greenwood 67′), Fernandes (Van de Beek 88′), Rashford; Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Henderson; Jones, Shaw; Lingard; Elanga

Bookings: Pierre Lees-Melou 90+4′; Diogo Dalot 77′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Ronaldo seeking to increase goal tally against Norwich; Dalot, Telles, Fred and Sancho start

Manchester United will face Norwich City in the Premier League at Carrow Road this evening. The match comes three days after the 1-1 draw against Young Boys in the final UEFA Champions League group stage match of the season with United winning the group and making the knockout stages of the competition. It was Ralf Rangnick’s second match in charge of the club and like Michael Carrick, he is so far undefeated with United winning three and drawing two of their last five matched post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United will be expected to continue that run of form as they bid to get back in with a chance of challenging this season.

United current sit sixth in the Premier League table with 24 points, three points adrift of fourth place and 11 points adrift of the top spot, currently held by Manchester City. Norwich sit rock bottom in the league, earning just ten points in the 15 matches they have played this season, winning twice, drawing four times and losing nine times. They share the relegation places with Newcastle United (19th) and Burnley (18th) with Watford, who beat United 4-1 recently, sitting in 17th place, three points clear of the trio in the drop zone. Of course, this could all change before a ball is kicked at Carrow Road with five matches being played before this one.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Fred, McTominay;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;

Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Jones, Shaw; Lingard, Van de Beek; Greenwood, Elanga

Norwich City:

Krul;

Aarons, Kabak, Hanley, Giannoulis;

Sargent, McLean, Rupp, Gilmour, Placheta;

Pukki

Substitutes:

Gunn; Byram, Mumba, Tomkinson; Dowell, Cantwell, Sorensen, Lees-Melou; Idah

United and Norwich have met a total of 18 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 14 times, drawn once with Norwich winning the remaining three matches. United have scored 35 goals, winning four penalties and scoring two of them. Norwich have scored 11 goals, winning no penalties. United have kept a total of 10 clean sheets with Norwich keeping two. United players have been shown a total of 15 yellow cards and no red cards in this fixture with Norwich players shown a total of 22 yellow cards and no red cards. United are in much better form than they were in early November and will seek to take advantage of the strugglers.

United and Norwich have a good history. Mike Phelan both played for Norwich. Brandon Williams is currently on loan at the club. Mike Haines (Technical Scout) and Matthew Lewis (Performance Analyst) both worked for United. Henning Berg is a scout for the Norfolk club. Robbie Brady, Steve Bruce, Jacob Butterfield, Luke Chadwick, Ritchie De Laet, Dion Dublin, David Fox, David Healy, Paul Heckingbottom, Rhodri Jones, Phil Mulryne, Alex Notman, Anthony Pilkington, Simon Ratcliffe, Mark Robins, Michael Rose, and Martin Russel all played for both clubs, some at youth level. David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand both had trials at Norwich.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-3-3] Henderson, Dalot and Shaw to start against Norwich; Ronaldo, Greenwood and Sancho to lead the attack? Fernandes to shine?

Manchester United will face Norwich City in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Saturday evening. The match comes three days after the 1-1 draw against Young Boys in the final UEFA Champions League group stage match of the season with United winning the group and making the knockout stages of the competition. It was Ralf Rangnick’s second match in charge of the club and like Michael Carrick, he is so far undefeated with United winning three and drawing two of their last five matched post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United will be expected to continue that run of form as they bid to get back in with a chance of challenging this season.

United current sit sixth in the Premier League table with 24 points, three points adrift of fourth place and 11 points adrift of the top spot, currently held by Manchester City. Norwich sit rock bottom in the league, earning just ten points in the 15 matches they have played this season, winning twice, drawing four times and losing nine times. They share the relegation places with Newcastle United (19th) and Burnley (18th) with Watford, who beat United 4-1 recently, sitting in 17th place, three points clear of the trio in the drop zone. Of course, this could all change before a ball is kicked at Carrow Road with five matches being played before this one.

Previous meetings with Norwich City and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Norwich have met a total of 18 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 14 times, drawn once with Norwich winning the remaining three matches. United have scored 35 goals, winning four penalties and scoring two of them. Norwich have scored 11 goals, winning no penalties. United have kept a total of 10 clean sheets with Norwich keeping two. United players have been shown a total of 15 yellow cards and no red cards in this fixture with Norwich players shown a total of 22 yellow cards and no red cards. United are in much better form than they were in early November and will seek to take advantage of the strugglers.

United and Norwich have a good history. Mike Phelan both played for Norwich. Brandon Williams is currently on loan at the club. Mike Haines (Technical Scout) and Matthew Lewis (Performance Analyst) both worked for United. Henning Berg is a scout for the Norfolk club. Robbie Brady, Steve Bruce, Jacob Butterfield, Luke Chadwick, Ritchie De Laet, Dion Dublin, David Fox, David Healy, Paul Heckingbottom, Rhodri Jones, Phil Mulryne, Alex Notman, Anthony Pilkington, Simon Ratcliffe, Mark Robins, Michael Rose, and Martin Russel all played for both clubs, some at youth level. David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand both had trials at Norwich.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Norwich City in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Saturday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

United have some capable goalkeepers this season. David De Gea is considered the number one goalkeeper for the club but that could all change this season if Rangnick feels there are better players in the squad. Dean Henderson played his second match of the season against Young Boys, which was good to see and the manager subbed him off in the second half to give Tom Heaton his debut for the club after coming through the academy and making his name in the game elsewhere. It was the first time he was seen since pre-season, in which he started a few matches with De Gea’s participation in the Euro’s and Henderson’s injury.

Lee Grant is also in the squad this season, but I would not expect to see him unless a loan spell was issued for Henderson, if De Gea is going to keep the number one spot and there are no injuries in the position with the players that remain. I would like to see Henderson given a chance against Norwich as it could be another good match for him to show what he has got as Rangnick will need to assess all of his players to find out who makes the grade, who is fine for rotation and who needs to leave the club. United need to be ruthless whilst thinking about the future as there are some competent players in the youth set up that will need nurturing.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence have done a lot better in the last five matches post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, keeping two clean sheets and conceding just four goals in those five matches, winning three and drawing twice. Raphael Varane is expected to miss this match, seemingly getting ready to return against Brighton and Hove Albion in just over a week’s time. This will mean that United will have to think about the next two matches without him, unless he is deemed fit earlier – which could add more problems based on what happened last time. This means that Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire could partner once again on the centre of the defence, which is not a problem.

The fullback roles have few options at this time with Aaron Wan-Bissaka stretchered off after the full-time whistle on Wednesday after colliding with the advertising hoarding, injuring his hand/wrist again, after knocking his knee earlier in the match. Because of this, it will be expected that Diogo Dalot starts once again in the right-back position after playing against both Arsenal and Crystal Palace in the position and doing well. On the other side, Luke Shaw returned against Young Boys, so could call time on Alex Telles’ participation once again, unless the Brazilian is considered to be fitter for this match with Shaw playing against Brentford next week?

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes

United’s midfield is perhaps the troublesome positions in the squad this season. With Paul Pogba injured and probably on his way out of the club as a free agent at the end of the season, or before, there is some rebuilding needed which will get this team a bit stronger in these positions so they can dominate, helping both the attack and the defence. Scott McTominay, Fred and Bruno Fernandes were all rested on Wednesday evening. They were all missed in that experimental side which was not a complete failure as United did not lose the match. However, reinforcement will be needed as United need to become hungrier in these positions.

McTominay can play in the defensive area of the midfield which will unlock both Fred and Fernandes to operate in the attacking areas, when on the attack and drop back to help when United were defending. This is the bare minimum that is needed to play in the midfield for United. There needs to be pace, ability and hunger for United to achieve. A victory over Norwich is the minimum that will be expected in this match as United then move on to think about the next during this busy Festive period. Rangnick will have some ideas on how to set his team up but these three players are perhaps the best options at this time. At least until changes can be made.

Forward: Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho

United’s attacking line is the strongest part of the squad this season, even with the injuries to Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani – with the duo back, the options will be impressive providing all players can pull some kind of form together at the same time. It could see United see reliance of the older players reduced, although Cristiano Ronaldo will want to play every match that he can for the club. The Portuguese superstar should start having been rested in the week and will be seeking to add to his 12 goals in all competitions so far this season. It has been a good return to United for Ronaldo – he could be intrinsic to United’s chances of success.

Mason Greenwood scored United’s only goal against Young Boys on Wednesday evening at the Theatre of Dreams, which was a good finish from a Luke Shaw cross. It has been said that Rangnick wants to make him one of the stars of this team, which we all know he is capable being but he will need to be nurtured in an era where the tactics and formation of the team will change. Jadon Sancho should be the other wide player to start in a 4-3-3 formation, with the player in the left where he could interchange with Greenwood, Ronaldo or cut into the centre with both fullbacks coming forward when United are on the attack.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Phil Jones, Alex Telles; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Marcus Rashford, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga

United’s bench will be much different to the one which was named in the draw to Young Boys on Wednesday. I would like to see David De Gea on the bench with Henderson given a chance to shine under Rangnick, which could see the manager assess his players ahead of the important January transfer window. Both are competent goalkeepers but the manager needs to find out which one is better to build the team around. Both have good points and bad points and it is a risk worth assessing. In defence, Phil Jones and Alex Telles could line up on the bench with the former not able to play in the Champions League in the midweek.

In the midfield areas, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could all have something to offer, although both Lingard and Van de Beek would need to raise their game considerably to earn starts in this squad. Both were not up to the high standards needed to feature more. It is entirely possible that both could leave the club in January with Lingard’s contract expiring in the summer and the Dutchman unhappy. In attack, with injuries hampering United, Marcus Rashford, Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga could all be available which would boost the options from the bench should more be needed from United.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United ready for Norwich challenge; Rangnick to find who to build his team around? Henderson starts?

Norwich City -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Carrow Road, Norwich

Saturday 11 December 2021, KO 17:30 GMT

Referee: Darren England Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Peter Kirkup

Fourth Official: Andy Madley VAR: John Brooks

Assistant VAR: Eddie Smart

Manchester United will face Norwich City in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Saturday evening. The match comes three days after the 1-1 draw against Young Boys in the final UEFA Champions League group stage match of the season with United winning the group and making the knockout stages of the competition. It was Ralf Rangnick’s second match in charge of the club and like Michael Carrick, he is so far undefeated with United winning three and drawing two of their last five matched post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United will be expected to continue that run of form as they bid to get back in with a chance of challenging this season.

United current sit sixth in the Premier League table with 24 points, three points adrift of fourth place and 11 points adrift of the top spot, currently held by Manchester City. Norwich sit rock bottom in the league, earning just ten points in the 15 matches they have played this season, winning twice, drawing four times and losing nine times. They share the relegation places with Newcastle United (19th) and Burnley (18th) with Watford, who beat United 4-1 recently, sitting in 17th place, three points clear of the trio in the drop zone. Of course, this could all change before a ball is kicked at Carrow Road with five matches being played before this one.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: DWWDWL

Young Boys 1-1 D, Crystal Palace 1-0 W, Arsenal 3-2 W, Chelsea 1-1 D, Villarreal 2-0 W, Watford 4-1 L

Goals: 12 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 5 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Fred, Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 9 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Paul Pogba, 3 – Luke Shaw, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Cristiano Ronaldo 1 – Fred, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Raphael Varane

Norwich City – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LDDWWL

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 L, Newcastle United 1-1 D, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 D, Southampton 2-1 W, Brentford 2-1 W, Leeds United 2-1 L

Goals: 5 – Teemu Pukki, 2 – Joshua Sargent, Christos Tzolis, 1 – Grant Hanley, Kenny McLean, Mathias Normann, Andrew Omobamidele, Lukas Rupp

Assists: 2 – Christos Tzolis, 1 – Max Aarons, Kieran Dowell, Dimitris Giannoulis, Billy Gilmour, Kenny McLean, Mathias Normann, Milot Rashica, Joshua Sargent

Previous meetings with Norwich City and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Norwich have met a total of 18 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 14 times, drawn once with Norwich winning the remaining three matches. United have scored 35 goals, winning four penalties and scoring two of them. Norwich have scored 11 goals, winning no penalties. United have kept a total of 10 clean sheets with Norwich keeping two. United players have been shown a total of 15 yellow cards and no red cards in this fixture with Norwich players shown a total of 22 yellow cards and no red cards. United are in much better form than they were in early November and will seek to take advantage of the strugglers.

United and Norwich have a good history. Mike Phelan both played for Norwich. Brandon Williams is currently on loan at the club. Mike Haines (Technical Scout) and Matthew Lewis (Performance Analyst) both worked for United. Henning Berg is a scout for the Norfolk club. Robbie Brady, Steve Bruce, Jacob Butterfield, Luke Chadwick, Ritchie De Laet, Dion Dublin, David Fox, David Healy, Paul Heckingbottom, Rhodri Jones, Phil Mulryne, Alex Notman, Anthony Pilkington, Simon Ratcliffe, Mark Robins, Michael Rose, and Martin Russel all played for both clubs, some at youth level. David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand both had trials at Norwich.

Team News: Pogba and Martial ruled out through injury, Wan-Bissaka 50/50 to be involved against Norwich with Varane and Cavani back in training but not likely to find involvement in this match.

Paul Pogba (Thigh) and Anthony Martial (Knee) have been ruled out for the trip to Norwich. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Hand/Wrist/Knee) was stretched off in the draw with Young Boys, meaning he’s likely to have a 50/50 chance of being able to feature for United. Raphael Varane (Thigh) has returned to training but this match might come too soon for him – especially in what happened the last time he returned from injury. Edinson Cavani (Tendon) is also back in training but this match also comes too soon for him. It is expected that both Varane and Cavani could return ahead of the visit of Brighton and Hove Albion to the Theatre of Dreams on the 18 December.

Christoph Zimmermann (Ankle) and Milot Rashica (Groin) have both been ruled out of the visit of United due to injury. Brandon Williams is ineligible to face his parent club, being on loan at Norwich, which could be a big miss for the club. Mathias Normann (Pelvic) has a 50% chance of featuring for his club on Saturday evening whilst Sam Byram (Fitness) has a 25% chance of featuring against United. Norwich find themselves at the bottom of the league ahead of this match, which will be daunting for them, especially with United in much better form than they were in mid-November. If this match was a month ago, they would have been confident.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Sancho and Greenwood to lead United’s attack against Norwich? Fernandes, Fred and McTominay to feature in midfield? Dalot to win back his place in defence?

Rangnick probably does not fully know what kind of structure he will go with at this time, having been in charge of just two matches, one of which saw the majority of the first team left out. I think he will continue to experiment with is team and there could be some changes still to come. It is a relatively easy run for United for the foreseeable future, which is not suggesting that it will be an easy ride, but United have played the majority of the big clubs now, at least for this stage of the season. United will still be expected to continue to achieve results, which have been positive in the past five matches. The run will need to continue.

I would like to see Dean Henderson given another chance against Norwich this weekend, which will give Rangnick some first hand knowledge on the structure with him in the team. It is safe to say he is a different type of goalkeeper to David De Gea, who has kept his place in the team thus far. In defence, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could all start with the latter returning on Wednesday from a head injury. In midfield, Scott McTominay, Fred and Bruno Fernandes could all start with Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Cristiano Ronaldo in the attacking positions. That could be a great fit for United right now.

Match Prediction: United beat Norwich home and away during the 2019/20 season, scoring seven goals and conceding one as the club ended up being relegated to the Championship that season.

United and Norwich did not face each other in the Premier League last season because of Norwich’s relegation at the end of the 2019/20 season. Bask then, United beat Norwich twice. In the fixture at Carrow Road which was played on the 27 October 2019, United won 3-1. Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial scored the goals for United with Onel Hernandez getting a late consolation. At Old Trafford, which was played on the 11 January 2020, United won 4-0 with the goals scored by Rashford, who scored a brace, Martial and Mason Greenwood. United need to do the same this season – brushing the relegation candidates aside.

United seem to be in a better stage in confidence having been undefeated in their last five matches. Michael Carrick led United to two wins and one draw with Rangnick so far guiding United to a win and a draw. Two clean sheets have been kept with United beating Villarreal, Arsenal and Crystal Palace and drawing to Chelsea and Young Boys – although a team of fringe players was used in the latter match with some debuts being given for promising youth players. United have a good run ahead of them over the Festive period, which is a good sign compared to the run that contributed to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking.

Norwich City 0-4 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Villa beat United after 18-match winless run against Red Devils; Dalot shone, Greenwood tried, Ronaldo had an off game

Manchester United fell to a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League. It was the first league defeat of the season; the third in all competitions with two of those coming at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost both Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire to injury before seeing Kortney Hause head home in the 88th minute to put Villa ahead in the match. Edinson Cavani called for a penalty as Hause handled the ball in the box in added time and the penalty was given both by the referee and VAR. Bruno Fernandes took the penalty, sending it over the crossbar. United 18-match undefeated run against Villa is over.

United started well against Villa but the away side soon started to get into the game. United almost got in early with Mason Greenwood looking to break through the defence and find an early goal, but defensively, Villa were able to nip the attack in the bud. Greenwood is a live wire of a player and will push defences. Villa then had a chance, which at the time was the best chance of the game with Matt Targett off target, which should have not been the case because of how close he was to the goal. Villa then started to get their foot in and pressured United, who seemed defensively poor at the time with Harry Maguire making a mistake.

In the 29th minute of the match, Luke Shaw was booked for a challenge a few minutes later, after suffering a knock, could not continue so Solskjaer had to make his first substitution of the match with Diogo Dalot replacing him in the 34th minute of the match. At the end of the half, it was 0-0 despite both side trying to cause a dent in each others armour. United had 60.2% possession, having 15 shots on goal, with just two of those on target – which was not that great. United will need to be more clinical in the second half if they want to keep the pressure on Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City this season.

There were no changes by either team at the start of the second half of the match. There seemed to be a fiery atmosphere to the second half of the match with Villa seeking to press United and demanding to be noticed. Ollie Watkins seemed to break through, although he seemed to be offside, and he was. Maguire seemed to be carrying a knock in the 53rd minute of the match and needed treatment on the pitch. Maguire continued by Victor Lindelof got himself warmed up and ready to come on but Maguire was happy to continue, for now. Cristiano Ronaldo started an attack with Paul Pogba shooting on goal, but was just off target.

There was some frustration with John McGinn, who seemed to be fouled by Maguire, who with his calf injury, would not have caught him on a run. McGinn was annoyed that nothing was given and minutes later took out his frustration on Bruno Fernandes, swiping at his ankle. He was booked for that foul but still seemed to moan at the referee. Solskjaer brought Lindelof on for Maguire in the 67th minute of the match. Seconds later, Villa were on the attack with David De Gea making a good save, sending the ball into the midfield. United were on the attack through Greenwood with Ronaldo getting forward, but offside and Greenwood shot and missed.

United seemed to be more adventurous at this late stage of the match with Villa seeking to do all they could to get a goal or stop United from scoring one. In the 82nd minute of the match, Solskjaer made his third substitution, this time not because of an injury, bringing Edinson Cavani back from injury and replacing Scott McTominay, who returned from groin surgery last weekend. United will continue to attack the Villa and seek to win this match but Villa will give them as much, seeking to get a win over United. In the 88th minute of the match, Kortney Hause headed a goal for the away side with the Villa fans erupting in celebration.

United won a penalty in added time after Hause seemed to handle the ball in the box. The referee gave the penalty, as did VAR. Bruno Fernandes took the penalty and missed it with United set to suffer back to back defeats for the first time this season, their third defeat of the season including the Champions League opener to Young Boys almost a fortnight ago. It is not the best result for United, who seemed to be especially poor in the second half. Villa took all three points from this match, which they enjoyed as it is the first time in 18 matches that they won – their last victory over United came in December 2009.

United will be back in Champions League action on Wednesday evening as they welcome Villarreal, the team who beat them on penalties in the Europa League final last season, to Old Trafford. United will need to end their run of defeats, winning once in their last four matches in all competitions. The defeats to Young Boys, West Ham United and now Aston Villa could be costly for them this season. Old Trafford was the place that defeats cost them last season and despite the good start at home, last season seems to have come calling. United can only hope that Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire are not out of action for a long time.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Seemed calm despite the defensive chaos around him. Made a great second half save to deny Villa. Beaten two minutes from time though.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Had a quiet match against Villa. Solid defensively, as is almost always the case. Seemed to make decisions late at times, which is not good., especially when seeking to attack - which we need to see more of.

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19 Raphael Varane

Had to put a lot of work in at the back and seemed solid when doing that. Kept his position and was definitely the strong link in the defence.

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5 Harry Maguire

Seemed a bit off his game at the start of the match and prone to errors. Soon settled into the game but got a knock to the calf, which he seemed to recover from but had to come off for Lindelof in the 67th minute of the match.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back played well against Villa and looked to be in form again. He was booked for a challenge in the 29th minute of the match, receiving a knock soo after. In the 34th minute of the match he could not continue and was replaced by Dalot.

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17 Fred

Struggled to control the game. Will no doubt be the scape goat again as many do not like him. Passing was not good and could not control the pressure.

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39 Scott McTominay

Seemed a bit more confident in himself after his injury setback and his early return last week. Settled in and did what was needed partnering Fred in the midfield. He was replaced by Cavani in the 82nd minute of the match with United needing a goal to win the game.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Lively throughout the match. Consistent when seeking to score. Seemed to do more than others, as he did against the Hammers in midweek. His finishing was not as good as it has been.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

He was involved from start to finish. Stood up to the challenge and did what he needed to do. Took the penalty, which could have levelled the match - and missed him. 15 taken, 13 scored.

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6 Paul Pogba

Had a bright start to the game and had a chance to score from an attack, but was off target. Perhaps it was not a match for him to shine in. Time for a change to this formation perhaps?

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7 Cristiano Ronaldo

Did not seem to be able to get into this match. Marking Ronaldo did not really create space for others. Perhaps two strikers are needed? Had some threat from the wide areas when he was on the ball, which is where Pogba's chance came from.

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Substitutes

20 Diogo Dalot

Replaced Shaw 34'. Did well to contain Cash, which was where Shaw was struggling. Made some good runs on the attack, which was good to see. He will probably be the right-back on Wednesday with Wan-Bissaka suspended.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Replaced Maguire 67'. Looked pretty comfortable when he came on, despite the chaos United were in at the time. Settled into the game and did all he could do.

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21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced McTominay 82'. Hause got away from him which resulted in Villa's goal. Came on too late

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Goals: Kortney Hause 88′

Assists: Douglas Luiz 88′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire (Lindelof 67′), Shaw (Dalot 34′); Fred, McTominay (Cavani 82′); Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba; Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Martial, Sancho

Bookings: Luke Shaw 29′, Fred 77′; John McGinn 66′, Matty Cash 90′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Solskjaer makes 11 changes against Villa; Ronaldo starts, Cavani on the bench

Manchester United will return to Premier League action this afternoon as they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in a match that has been brought forward from a traditional 3pm kick off because of other events in the area later in the day – The Courteeners have a gig at Old Trafford Cricket Club in the evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for another victory in the Premier League, this time at home as the club seek to do better than last season. The club lost six times in the league with all the defeats at the Theatre of Dreams, which cost them a challenge with Manchester City for the title. This season could be so much different.

United were beaten in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening at the hands of West Ham United, whose only goal of the match was enough for United to be knocked out of the competition. United did have 27 shots on goal though and played a lot better than the Hammers, who now face Manchester City in the fourth round. United though, will have a week’s rest between the matches against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the last week of October, unless any matches need to be rearranged and with those matches between the double header against Atalanta in the Champions League, United are better off.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw;

Fred, McTominay;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba;

Ronaldo

Substitutes:

Heaton; Lindelof, Dalot; Lingard, Matic, Van de Beek; Cavani, Martial, Sancho

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett;

Ramsey, Luiz, McGinn;

Watkins, Ings

Substitutes:

Steer; Young; Buendia, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Ckukwuemeka, Bogarde; Traore, Archer

United and Villa have bet a total of 52 times in the Premier League with United winning 37 matches, drawing 12 and Villa winning just three times. United have scored 97 goals, winning six penalties, scoring just five of them. Villa have scored just 31 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheet with Villa keeping just six. Discipline seems to be a problem with United players being shown 75 yellow cards and three red cards with Villa players being shown 72 yellow cards and four red cards. Last season, United beat Villa twice; 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although he is on loan and will not be eligible to face United. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane an assistant manager.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Ronaldo seeking to continue scoring run; Greenwood, Fernandes and Dalot to start?

Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Saturday as they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in a match that has been brought forward from a traditional 3pm kick off because of other events in the area later in the day – The Courteeners have a gig at Old Trafford Cricket Club in the evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for another victory in the Premier League, this time at home as the club seek to do better than last season. The club lost six times in the league with all the defeats at the Theatre of Dreams, which cost them a challenge with Manchester City for the title. This season could be so much different.

United were beaten in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening at the hands of West Ham United, whose only goal of the match was enough for United to be knocked out of the competition. United did have 27 shots on goal though and played a lot better than the Hammers, who now face Manchester City in the fourth round. United though, will have a week’s rest between the matches against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the last week of October, unless any matches need to be rearranged and with those matches between the double header against Atalanta in the Champions League, United are better off.

Previous meetings with Aston Villa and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villa have bet a total of 52 times in the Premier League with United winning 37 matches, drawing 12 and Villa winning just three times. United have scored 97 goals, winning six penalties, scoring just five of them. Villa have scored just 31 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheet with Villa keeping just six. Discipline seems to be a problem with United players being shown 75 yellow cards and three red cards with Villa players being shown 72 yellow cards and four red cards. Last season, United beat Villa twice; 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although he is on loan and will not be eligible to face United. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane an assistant manager.

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

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea should be returning to the starting XI against Villa this weekend so he can continue the form that he has shown in the six matches he has already played this season. The Spanish goalkeeper has really shown the determination that he has to achieve with United and this season, the signings that have been made could further than with the club expected to mount a title challenge this season, which after five Premier League matches is going well with United keeping close to rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, who they share a position at the top of the table on – well at least on the same number of points.

De Gea has kept one clean sheet so far this season, which came in the match against Wolverhampton Wanderers but he went one step further against the Hammers in the Premier League at the London Stadium last weekend, seeing United equaliser through Cristiano Ronaldo, take the lead through Jesse Lingard and they in the last minute of the match, save a Mark Noble penalty which ensure that United took all three points on the road – which was something to celebrate after seeing United lose on penalties with De Gea not saving any of them, missing his own in the UEFA Europa League final back in May.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

Against Villa, United will revert back to their first-choice defenders with Aaron Wan-Bissaka restored to the starting XI but after his performance against the Hammers on Wednesday, I think Diogo Dalot should be given a chance to start in the Premier League. The Portuguese right-back spent a lot of the game attacking and could have had a goal himself on a number of occasions. I think in an attacking sense, he offers a lot more than Wan-Bissaka, who seems to defend well. He could come on late in the game as fresh legs with United defending a lead rather than trying to find a winning goal, or more.

Luke Shaw will return at left-back. He is having another good season at United, which is great to see after the start he had at the club, playing under three different managers and excelling under Solskjaer. United tend to be predictable as they attack from Shaw’s position, which is where Dalot could come in to change the game. In the centre of the defence, Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire will return to the starting XI after a midweek rest, which could see United’s defence back to full strength, despite the fact that Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly both did well against the Hammers at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Fred

It may not be the best midfield pairing for some, but Solskjaer sees something in the Scott McTominay and Fred pivot in the 4-2-3-1 formation that he likes to use. McTominay is perhaps the more talented midfielder in the pairing, despite those who only criticise him continuing their campaign about him. He scored the same number of goals as Anthony Martial last season, so as Martial is one of the best players at the club, according to these people, McTominay is right up there with him. McTominay is actually offering a lot more than Martial, if we bring facts into the debate. United need a new midfielder but perhaps Donny van de Beek could play alongside him?

Fred is a player that has good work rate and energy but in terms of ability, he always seems to make it look like he was lucky to get a move to United. There are so many matches that he has played in that I do not know how he got though them and got picked again. He’s not a player that will develop into one of the best midfielders on the planet but he might help United get through matches. Personally, I would like to see Van de Beek alongside McTominay, who can do the defensive workload with the Dutchman getting further forward on attacks and creating a seamless transition for the attack from the midfield. Fred will probably start though.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba

Solskjaer will have some of his big guns back for the clash with Villa at the Theatre of Dreams. I would expect Mason Greenwood to start on the right-wing after the display he showed against the Hammers, having a positive shot on goal almost as instantly as he came on. He’s a great player to have in the team and over the past two years you can see his level of development at the club – and he’s still a teenager for another week. Bruno Fernandes came on late against the Hammers and showed determination but it did not go United’s way in this match, which was a shame – but there are advantages of having midweek breaks now.

Fernandes will be striving to get the best out of his game in this match having scored four goals for the club so far this season – the same number of goal Cristiano Ronaldo has. It is expected that Paul Pogba will also return to action in this match, possible playing on the left-wing again, which has not worked as well recently as it did in the first match of the season at home to Leeds United. That said, United could fall back into a 4-3-3 formation with Pogba on the pitch which will give United a different dimension in attack, especially if both Dalot and Shaw play as they are both effectively attacking fullbacks.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo

In the three matches he has played since his return to Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo has four goals to his name. In 295 appearances for the Red Devils so far, he has 122 goals. Solskjaer managed to score 126 goals during his player career at the club, of which Ronaldo was a part of and scoring four more goals will see the Portuguese record breaker match his manager’s goal tally for the club, which will be a positive day for Ronaldo. He might not have the time on his side to work his way to becoming the top scorer in the history of the club, but he could be right up there with Wayne Rooney and Sir Bobby Charlton.

Ronaldo adds something to United’s attack and that was missed in the 1-0 defeat to the Hammers on Wednesday, but it was also a perfect time to rest him ahead of the next test for United; Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League. United will also go head to head with Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday next week, which is a match that United will need to win to get points on the board in the competition and Ronaldo could help United a long way in that area. Despite his age, Ronaldo is a player that had added another dimension to this team, not to mention the qualities that he has as a player.

Substitutes: Tom Heaton; Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho

Solskjaer will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench against Villa, two more than he was able to name in the 1-0 defeat to the Hammers in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening. Only three substitutes will be able to be used in the Premier League. I would expect to see Tom Heaton on the bench against his former club with De Gea restored in goal again after Dean Henderson started on Wednesday evening. In defence, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will all be available, should they be needed against Villa, which seems unlikely at this time, unless there is an injury in the match.

In midfield, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek could be available despite the trio all playing against the Hammers with the latter two both playing 90 minutes. Lingard played a good game against the club he as loaned to during the second half of last season and I think Matic was a positive influence in the first half, but tired in the second. Van de Beek should be playing more football this season. In attack, Anthony Martial will probably be on the bench despite his 90 minutes against the Hammers as I don’t think Edinson Cavani will be back in action this weekend. Jadon Sancho will be the other attacking substitute on the bench.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United looking to pressure rivals with victory over Villa after League Cup defeat

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 25 September 2021, KO 12:30 BST

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Darren Cann, Eddie Smart

Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury

VAR: Andy Madley Assistant VAR: Simon Beck

Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Saturday as they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford in a match that has been brought forward from a traditional 3pm kick off because of other events in the area later in the day – The Courteeners have a gig at Old Trafford Cricket Club in the evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking for another victory in the Premier League, this time at home as the club seek to do better than last season. The club lost six times in the league with all the defeats at the Theatre of Dreams, which cost them a challenge with Manchester City for the title. This season could be so much different.

United were beaten in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening at the hands of West Ham United, whose only goal of the match was enough for United to be knocked out of the competition. United did have 27 shots on goal though and played a lot better than the Hammers, who now face Manchester City in the fourth round. United though, will have a week’s rest between the matches against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the last week of October, unless any matches need to be rearranged and with those matches between the double header against Atalanta in the Champions League, United are better off.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLWWD

West Ham United 1-0 L, West Ham United 2-1 W, BSC Young Boys 2-1 L, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 W, Southampton 1-1 D

Goals: 4 – Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, 3 – Mason Greenwood, 2 – Jesse Lingard, 1 – Fred

Assists: 7 – Paul Pogba, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane

Aston Villa – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWLDWW

Chelsea 1-1 (4-3 penalties) L, Everton 3-0 W, Chelsea 3-0 L, Brentford 1-1 D, Barrow 6-0 W, Newcastle United 2-0 W

Goals: 4 – Cameron Archer, 3 – Anwar El Ghazi, 2 – Danny Ings, 1 – Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendía, Matty Cash, Own Goal, Frédéric Guilbert, John McGinn

Assists: 2 – Anwar El Ghazi, Danny Ings, 1 – Leon Bailey, Matty Cash, Frédéric Guilbert, Douglas Luiz, Tyrone Mings, Jaden Philogene-Bidace

Previous meetings with Aston Villa and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Villa have bet a total of 52 times in the Premier League with United winning 37 matches, drawing 12 and Villa winning just three times. United have scored 97 goals, winning six penalties, scoring just five of them. Villa have scored just 31 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheet with Villa keeping just six. Discipline seems to be a problem with United players being shown 75 yellow cards and three red cards with Villa players being shown 72 yellow cards and four red cards. Last season, United beat Villa twice; 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park.

Villa and United both have history with many players wearing the shirts of both teams through the years. Axel Tuanzebe is the most recent, although he is on loan and will not be eligible to face United. Ron Atkinson, a former United manager, played for both United and Villa. Peter Schmeichel also played for Villa a year after leaving United. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke and Ashley Young, who left Villa for United, then Inter Milan and re-signed for Villa this summer. Tom Cleverley was once loaned to Villa, Steve Bruce is a former manager of theirs and Roy Keane an assistant manager.

Team News: Rashford and Amad still on the sidelines, Cavani close to making a return but eight players have been rested ahead of this match so United will be raring to go against the Villa.

Marcus Rashford (Shoulder) and Amad Diallo (Thigh) are the only two players currently on the sidelines through injury for United. Rashford has been back in training for a number of weeks but he will not be rushed back into action. It is expected that both players will be back after the second international break of the season. Edinson Cavani was pencilled in to face West Ham in the Carabao Cup but he had not trained enough prior to the match. He does have a 25% chance of being fit for the Villa match. That said, David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Fred and Cristiano Ronaldo have been fully rested.

Trézéguet (Knee), Keinan Davis (Knee) and Morgan Sanson (Muscular) have been ruled out of the trip to Old Trafford to face United on Saturday afternoon. Matt Targett (Abductor) and John McGinn (Head) have a 50% chance in being fit to face United with Leon Bailey (Thigh) having a 25% chance and will probably have to go through late fitness tests ahead of the match. Villa were defeated by Chelsea in the third round of the Carabao Cup on penalties on Wednesday evening and could have more problems with fatigue. Perhaps Ashley Young will face United but Axel Tuanzebe, who is on loan from United is not eligible to face his club.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Pogba, Fernandes, McTominay, Fred, Maguire, Varane, Shaw and De Gea to all be back in the starting XI against Villa?

After the defeat to West Ham on Wednesday evening, which saw United knocked out of the Carabao Cup this season will give United a break here and there this autumn and winter but it has set United back to the point where they will need to get back to winning ways. Solskjaer made 11 changes against the Hammers from he Premier League victory over the club, so there will be fresh legs available on Saturday, which will give United the advantage. That said, a few of the players from Wednesday should be given the chance in this match based on what they offered and how they played. United never gave up which was admirable.

David De Gea could be back in goal for United, which is positive sign based on his performances so far this season. In defence, I believe Diogo Dalot did enough to win his place against Villa, keeping Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench. Luke Shaw will be back in the left-back position and both Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire will complete the defence. In midfield, Scott McTominay and Fred will be back in action with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood playing in the attacking midfield positions. Cristiano Ronaldo will be back leading the line for United as the club looks to add pressure to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Match Prediction: United did the double over Villa last season, winning 2-1 at home and 3-1 away and Solskjaer will be seeking similar victories over the Birmingham club this season.

United beat Villa twice in the Premier League last season, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 at Villa Park. In the home match, Anthony Martial opened the scoring in the 40 minute of the match, assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Bertrand Traore equalised in the 58th minute, assisted by Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty three minutes later to win the match for United. At Villa Park, Traore opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the match and Fernandes equalised from the spot in the 52nd minute. Mason Greenwood put United ahead in the 56th minute with Edinson Cavani securing the win in the 87th minute.

Solskjaer will be seeking to get all three points in this match too, keeping his Premier League record at Old Trafford this season intact. United have beaten Leeds United 5-1 and Newcastle United 4-1 at the Theatre of Dreams in the league, and will be looking to continue those results as the club seek to better their home performances, losing six times, all at home, in the Premier League last season. If Solskjaer can turn Old Trafford into a fortress once again, United will be hated by the opposition, talked about negatively in the media which will mean everything is going to plan this season.

Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

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

21 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

copyright: JW