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Ratings: Fernandes was top notch, De Gea and Elanga impressive; Sancho needs to work harder to start but United need to find a way to avert the errors

Manchester United drew 2-2 with Aston Villa at Villa Park in the Premier League. Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring for United in the sixth minute of the match with Villa’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez making a howler with the ball going through his legs. Fernandes put United 2-0 up in the 67th minute of the match with United crossing at the time. However, Jacob Ramsey got a goal back in the 77th minute with Philippe Coutinho equalising five minutes later. United nor Villa were able to find a winner to take all three points. It was better for United, but simple mistakes cost them once again.

United started in fine fettle against Villa, seemingly discovering something different since the two teams last met five days ago. Rangnick’s side pressed Villa from the start, winning a free-kick which Alex Telles took, taping the ball slightly with Bruno Fernandes then running into the box with the ball and shooting towards the keeper, who had an absolute howler with the ball ending up going into the back of the net, just like Massimo Taibi. Villa did not like the goal going in with the keeper upset after what happened. Mason Greenwood, Anthony Elanga and Edinson Cavani all looked in good form and up for the challenge.

United had seven shots on goal in the first half, four of those on target, scoring one goal, also having 55% of the ball. Villa, having just 45% of the ball, had just four shots on goal, three of which were on target with David De Gea once again stepping up to make the difference for Unite with his saves. Lucas Digne, on loan from Everton was the first player to be booked, seeing yellow in the 27th minute of the match – his fifth of the season but he will not face suspension as it was his first for Villa. Nemanja Matic saw yellow four minutes later (31) and will need to watch himself in the second half of the match.

United played a hard-fought 45 minute at Villa Park, going into the break in the lead with a lot of work to be done. Villa will be seeking to at least get an equaliser, knowing what they did against United on Monday evening, despite two goals being ruled out for a foul and an offside. Villa fans will be hoping to see Philippe Coutinho at some point in the second half, as the commentary team kept talking about as if he was some kind of superstar who has been pulling it out of the bag for the past three years. Villa have done well trying to get back into the match during the first half, but it just did not happen for them.

At the start of the second half, Villa made their first substitution after Ezri Konsa could not continue after suffering an injury in the first half. He was replaced by Kourtney Hause in the 46th minute of the match. United had done some good work at the start of the second half, mostly attacking play but they were unable to double their lead, which I feel is something they must do in order to get the win in this match, which is much-needed. In the 67th minute of the match, after a Villa error, Fred got the ball, ran towards the goal before playing it to Fernandes, who scored his second of the match and seventh of the season.

In the minutes before Fernandes scored the second goal of the match, he was fouled by Douglas Luis, who appeared to step on him, whether an accident or not, we shall see. The Portuguese magnifico seemed to be in some pain as he went off for treatment. Of course, he got his own back by scoring minutes later, putting United 2-0 up and with a great chance of winning this match. Villa brought Coutinho on in the 68th minute, replacing Morgan Sansom who looked dejected on the bench after coming off. Villa had some positive periods but they were still very much out of the match until Jacob Ramsey got a goal back in the 77th minute.

Rangnick made his first substitution in the 78th minute with Jadon Sancho replacing Anthony Elanga, who was a largely positive presence in the team against Villa. Just a minute before, Villa made their third substitution with Carney Chukwuemeka replacing Danny Ings, whose impact was not the best against United this time. Coutinho scored the equaliser for Villa in the 82nd minute of the match, unmarked running towards the goal. Raphaël Varane tried to cut the cross out but could not reach it before it connected with the Brazilian. De Gea was unable to make the save. United had more work to do in order to win this match.

Rangnick made a late double substitution in the 89th minute with Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard replacing Greenwood and Fernandes. There were four minutes added at the end of the match with United needing a goal to win the match. That goal never came but looking at the usual suspects on Twitter, who were so sure that a change of manager would change everything for United, it is quite satisfying watching them come up with excuse after excuse to avert them from any kind of responsibility for their clearly wrong opinions on everything. United will face Brentford on Wednesday, which is a must win match.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Impressive but ends up frustrated. Made some great saves to deny Buendia and Digne in the first half and got the better of Ramsey, before he eventually scored. Coutinho's goal was not something he could get to based on the closeness of the finish. From a win to a draw in five minutes will have been tough to take.

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20 Diogo Dalot

Good first half performance. He was the player that was targeted and Villa, largely through Digne, got the better of him time and time again. He will learn from it and prosper eventually.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Improvement. He was rusty against Villa on Monday, after a layoff. He had a largely positive match but for the two goals, he was not in his position, which seems to be a trend with him.

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19 Raphael Varane

Magnificent defender to have at United. It United had two of him, they would be in with a chance of retaining their leads. He was flawless for the majority of the match but in five late second half minutes, United succumbed and saw a win snatched away from them.

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27 Alex Telles

Villa got little against him. The Brazilian got an assist for Fernandes' first goal. Elanga did a lot of work ahead of him, which enabled him to concentrate on defending, which he did well with Villa not getting much past him.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Balanced. Gate United a safe defensive minded player to protect the defence, which seemed to work in the first half and for some of the second. He tired out in the end though - which is why United need a defensive minded midfielder sooner rather than later. He was booked for a cynical challenge, which seemed to stop him from getting heavily involved because he didn't want to be sent off.

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17 Fred

Mixed performance. When United were on top n the match, Fred seemed to be in high spirts but when United were poor, especially in the last 20-odd minutes, Fred was poor too. United need a midfielder that can drag his teammates through matches. He got an assist for Fernandes' second goal.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Constant threat. Villa saw a lot of him and he could have scored United's second goal in the first half by Martinez came out and made the save. His decision-making needs more improvement but he will get there. Replaced nu Van de Beek in the 89th minute.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

MOTM. Opened the scoring in the sixth minute, completed his brace in the 67th minute. Seems to be hated, even by some United supporters, who should be elated that he stepped up and grabbed this match by the neck.

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36 Anthony Elanga

Impressive. It is certainly a nod to the future. He is better than Rashford at this time and I was glad to see him start. His pace is alarming and he is determined enough to find his feet. He was replaced by Sancho in the 78th minute.

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21 Edinson Cavani

High work rate. The Uruguayan always puts in a shift and sometimes it does not work. He chased back time and time again. He is a player that should have the ball played to him in advanced areas more often but United's midfield is not good enough to control matches like that.

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Substitutes

25 Jadon Sancho

Replaced Elanga 78'. Clearly not doing enough to be picked as a starting player. Needs to find a way to break into the team and not make his signing look like another mistake - which has happened a lot at United in the past eight years.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Greenwood 89'. Could have scored the winner for United. Needs to be doing more in training to get into the starting XI. With the midfield depleted today, he should have been a shoe in, but was on the bench again.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Fernandes 89'. Had five minute with added time and just did not seem to be interested. Doubt he will leave this month and hopefully United will not give him a new contract. It is time to let him leave.

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Goals: Jacob Ramsey 77′, Philippe Coutinho 82′; Bruno Fernandes 6′, 67′

Assists: Philippe Coutinho 77′, Jacob Ramsey 82′; Alex Telles 6′, Fred 67′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles; Matic, Fred; Greenwood (Van de Beek 89′), Fernandes (Lingard 89′), Elanga (Sancho 78′); Cavani

Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Henderson; Jones, Maguire; Mata

Bookings: Lucas Digne 27′; Nemanja Matic 31′, Bruno Fernandes 46′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Cavani, Elanga, Greenwood and Fernandes start against Villa; Maguire, Jones, Van de Beek and Sancho on the bench

Manchester United will travel to Villa Park this evening where they will take on Aston Villa in the Premier League just five days after their 1-0 victory in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup. Ralf Rangnick’s side did not manage to win convincingly but Scott McTominay’s header and Fred’s delivery was all that was needed to get the victory, despite the two disallowed goals for Villa, which Steven Gerrard will have moaned about, like the true Scouse whiner that he is. United need to be wining this match, getting some points on the board in the Premier League and more importantly, getting into some kind of form.

At the time of writing, United sit seventh in the Premier League with 31 points from 19 matches, winning nine times, drawing four times and losing six times. United have two matches in hand over most of the teams above them, the Brentford match will be played next week with the Brighton and Hove Albion match still to be rearranged. Villa sit 14th in the league with 22 points from 19 matches, winning seven, drawing once and losing 11 times – which is dire form for the club. Villa have lost their last three matches in all competitions and will need to start getting results or the could find themselves dragged into a relegation battle.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Fernandes, Elanga;

Cavani

Substitutes:

Heaton, Henderson; Jones, Maguire; Mata, Lingard, Van de Beek; Sancho

Aston Villa:

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne;

Ramsey, Luiz, Sanson;

Watkins, Buendia, Ings

Substitutes:

Steer; Targett, Young, Hause, Hayden; Coutinho, Iroegbunam, Chukwuemeka; Archer

United and Villa have played a total of 53 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 37 matches, drawing 12 with Villa winning the remaining four matches. United have scored a total of 97 goals, winning seven penalties and scoring five of them. Villa have scored 32 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping a total seven. The discipline between these two sides is not the best with United players being shown 77 yellow cards and three red cards whilst Villa players have been shown 74 yellow cards and four red cards. United need this win after the Wolves defeat.

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 his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. 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: [4-3-1-2] Jones and Varane to partner in defence? Ronaldo and Cavani leading the attack? Van de Beek, Fred and Sancho in midfield?

Manchester United will travel to Villa Park on Saturday evening where they will take on Aston Villa in the Premier League just five days after their 1-0 victory in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup. Ralf Rangnick’s side did not manage to win convincingly but Scott McTominay’s header and Fred’s delivery was all that was needed to get the victory, despite the two disallowed goals for Villa, which Steven Gerrard will have moaned about, like the true Scouse whiner that he is. United need to be wining this match, getting some points on the board in the Premier League and more importantly, getting into some kind of form.

At the time of writing, United sit seventh in the Premier League with 31 points from 19 matches, winning nine times, drawing four times and losing six times. United have two matches in hand over most of the teams above them, the Brentford match will be played next week with the Brighton and Hove Albion match still to be rearranged. Villa sit 14th in the league with 22 points from 19 matches, winning seven, drawing once and losing 11 times – which is dire form for the club. Villa have lost their last three matches in all competitions and will need to start getting results or the could find themselves dragged into a relegation battle.

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

United and Villa have played a total of 53 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 37 matches, drawing 12 with Villa winning the remaining four matches. United have scored a total of 97 goals, winning seven penalties and scoring five of them. Villa have scored 32 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping a total seven. The discipline between these two sides is not the best with United players being shown 77 yellow cards and three red cards whilst Villa players have been shown 74 yellow cards and four red cards. United need this win after the Wolves defeat.

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 his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. 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 Villa Park on Saturday evening…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea is still the main player in the squad that is trying to do his best whilst accommodating his teammates mistakes. If the defence was much better, United would be getting the wins they need to break back into the top four this season. The Spanish goalkeeper has endured a tough time at United, especially last season when Dean Henderson stepped forward to challenge him. It seemed like it could have been the end of the road at United for De Gea, but this season he has been virtually faultless in goal and hopefully he will continue to strive to reach that goal as United look forward to finding their feet post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It is important for United to use the voices of the long-standing players at the club as those with weaker attitudes are found out and given the chance to turn things around, or be shipped out of the club. United need to get back on the road to the glory days as it will soon be a decade since they last won a league title and with well over £1 billion spent post-Sir Alex Ferguson, that is something of an embarrassment given that the people running the club have relatively no football knowledge or experience. Rangnick’s role after being the interim manager should give United a club above the playing level – perhaps it will all work out eventually?

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles

United need to find a way of strengthening the defence this season, at least until the summer when there is some stability with a new permanent manager who will set up his new team. Harry Maguire has been injured for the last few matches, despite giving an interview about what has happened at the club which almost seems like some of the players are not interested in performing for the club – which is what it looks and feels like. Luke Shaw is suspended for this match, so he will get a little break. Diogo Dalot suffered a cut on Monday evening against Villa in the FA Cup, so there is a chance that he will not start this match.

If that is the case, Aaron Wan-Bissaka might get a chance to redeem himself after some poor performances and an injury layoff. On the left side, Alex Telles will get a chance to earn his place again after Shaw returned from an injury layoff himself. In the centre of the defence, Raphael Varane is a definite as he seems to ooze class and is calm in the centre of defence. Victor Lindelof can be problematic at times, so providing he is ready after suffering a knock which kept him out on Monday, Phil Jones could partner the Frenchman, having done so well together when he made his senior return from a a knee injury that lasted around two years.

Midfield: Jadon Sancho, Fred, Donny van de Beek

United’s midfield is perhaps the main problem area in the squad at present. Despite a number of players in these positions, it just does not seem to work all that well. Paul Pogba started the season in fine form but an injury sustained many months ago has derailed his season – which is probably his last at the club being that he is out of contract in the summer. It was suggested that it could be another four or five weeks before he even returns to training, so it seems unlikely that any reliance will be put upon him this season. Donny van de Beek has been fit for the majority of the season, yet he rarely gets picked – which may have to change this weekend.

With Scott McTominay suspended for this match, an a loss for United based on his form in the last few matches, Rangnick is going to have to make a gamble that does not result in Nemana Matic playing 90 minutes. Fred is likely to start in place of McTominay and Van de Beek should also start with Jadon Sancho, providing he has recovered from a thigh injury, being the third midfielder, although playing a wide position in the three, able to get forward on the attack and help defend when Villa are on the attack. Rangnick will probably stick with his 4-2-2-2 formation, but it seems to change throughout matches anyway, so who knows.

Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes has started to find his feet playing in the 4-2-2-2 formation, which does not suit him all that much being that he is regularly used in a wide position, which he is not used to. I think playing in a 4-3-1-2 formation suits him more and puts him in his favoured position just behind the strikers, where he is able to assist and score goals himself. The Portuguese magnifico has five goals and nine assists so far this season, scoring his last goal against Arsenal in the Premier League at the start of December, under the management of Michael Carrick. He needs to start getting back into the swing of things this season.

There is much debate about whether Fernandes can perform on the same stage as Cristiano Ronaldo, because they don’t see to click for Portugal, but the duo respect each other and can learn to play together at club level, which will benefit Portugal also. Fernandes was the stand out player last season and still has more goals and assists that most of his teammates going back two years when he signed for the club. It seems that Fernandes has become the player that we were told Paul Pogba was, which is quite funny as the Pogba supporters will tell you that Fernandes is the problem at the club, which seems very agenda driven. Pogba has been a failure.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani, Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo was missing with a hip injury against Villa on Monday evening and should be back in action for the Premier League encounter at Villa Park. With 14 goals and three assists so far this season, he is United’s top scorer and the player most likely to score a goal, providing there is creativity, which is a major struggle at United this season, despite the number of creative players in the squad. United, at least on paper have one of the best squads in the league this season but the underperforming nature of the squad is the real problem. Ronaldo recently spoke out about the problems and he could drag his teammates out of the mire.

Edinson Cavani should start with Ronaldo. The duo can provide space for each other and on their day, they can be a handful for the defenders in the league. Cavani has just two goals so far this season, scoring 17 last season, and I am sure he will start performing at the same level as last season, aiming to get something from what will be his last season at the Old Trafford club. Some suggest that Mason Greenwood should be starting ahead of either Ronaldo or Cavani, but when he has played, he looks out of form and will need to work on returning his form in order to be started ahead of two legends of the game.

Substitutes: Tom Heaton; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic; Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Amad Diallo, Anthony Elanga

United will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench, using just three of them in the Premier League. Rangnick had the chance to use five substitutes against Villa in the FA Cup on Monday evening, not using all of them for whatever reason. This time he has little choice. Dean Henderson was not on the bench on Monday and I think that will be the same for this match with former Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton taking his spot on the bench, as was the case on Monday. The defence could be depleted with just Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot on the bench, providing the latter is able to play following the laceration to his ankle.

In midfield, another area were there is a problem with players, Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic could be available, should they be needed. Of course, Rangnick could call on reinforcements from the academy to take positions on the bench to give him some more variety in terms of what players can offer from the bench. In attack, which is where United are particularly strong this season, not necessarily in form, the likes of Marcus Rashford, who needs to severely improve his form, Mason Greenwood, Amad Diallo, who could leave for a loan spell this month and Anthony Elanga, who should now be ahead of Rashford – could all be available.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Beating Villa is something that United need to be doing. No more apologies, just fight, desire and determination

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Villa Park, Birmingham

Saturday 15 January 2022, KO 17:30 GMT

Referee: David Coote Assistants: Gary Beswick, Nick Hopton

Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh

VAR: Mike Dean Assistant VAR: Dan Robathan

Manchester United will travel to Villa Park on Saturday evening where they will take on Aston Villa in the Premier League just five days after their 1-0 victory in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup. Ralf Rangnick’s side did not manage to win convincingly but Scott McTominay’s header and Fred’s delivery was all that was needed to get the victory, despite the two disallowed goals for Villa, which Steven Gerrard will have moaned about, like the true Scouse whiner that he is. United need to be wining this match, getting some points on the board in the Premier League and more importantly, getting into some kind of form.

At the time of writing, United sit seventh in the Premier League with 31 points from 19 matches, winning nine times, drawing four times and losing six times. United have two matches in hand over most of the teams above them, the Brentford match will be played next week with the Brighton and Hove Albion match still to be rearranged. Villa sit 14th in the league with 22 points from 19 matches, winning seven, drawing once and losing 11 times – which is dire form for the club. Villa have lost their last three matches in all competitions and will need to start getting results or the could find themselves dragged into a relegation battle.

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

Aston Villa 1-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 L, Burnley 3-1 W, Newcastle United 1-1 D, Norwich City 1-0 W, Young Boys 1-1 D

Goals: 14 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 5 – Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Own Goal, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

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

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

Manchester United 1-0 L, Brentford 2-1 L, Chelsea 3-1 L, Norwich City 2-0 W, Liverpool 1-0 L, Leicester City 2-1 W

Goals: 5 – Ollie Watkins, 4 – Cameron Archer, Danny Ings, 3 – Anwar El Ghazi, John McGinn, 2 – Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Jacob Ramsey, 1 – Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendía, Matthew Cash, Frédéric Guilbert, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett

Assists: 3 – Emiliano Buendía, Anwar El Ghazi, Douglas Luiz, 2 – Leon Bailey, Danny Ings, John McGinn, Ashley Young, 1 – Matthew Cash, Carney Chukwuemeka, Frédéric Guilbert, Tyrone Mings, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Matt Targett, Ollie Watkins

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

United and Villa have played a total of 53 matches in the history of the Premier League. United have won 37 matches, drawing 12 with Villa winning the remaining four matches. United have scored a total of 97 goals, winning seven penalties and scoring five of them. Villa have scored 32 goals, winning one penalty and scoring it. United have kept a total of 27 clean sheets with Villa keeping a total seven. The discipline between these two sides is not the best with United players being shown 77 yellow cards and three red cards whilst Villa players have been shown 74 yellow cards and four red cards. United need this win after the Wolves defeat.

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 his loan spell has now ended with him heading to Napoli for the rest of the season. 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: McTominay and Shaw suspended for United, McGinn suspended for Villa. United will also be missing Pogba but sweating on Jones, Ronaldo, Sancho, Dalot and Martial.

Eric Bailly (AFCON) is missing because of his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Paul Pogba (Thigh) is the only injured player for this match. Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw are both suspended for this match, so Rangnick will need to find a solution. Phil Jones (Calf/Shin), Cristiano Ronaldo (Hip) and Jadon Sancho (Thigh) all missed Monday’s match and have a 75% chance to feature this weekend. Diogo Dalot (Ankle) suffered a laceration on Monday and has a 50% chance of featuring whilst Anthony Martial (Knee) has just a 25% chance of facing Villa. United will need to ensure they have the right balance in the squad for this match.

Bertrand Traore (AFCON) and Trézéguet (AFCON) have both been ruled out because of their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Leon Bailey (Thigh) and Marvelous Nakamba (Knee) have both been ruled out due to injury. John McGinn is suspended for this match due to amassing five yellow cards in the Premier League. Former United captain, Ashley Young (Ankle/Foot) is only at 50% fitness and could miss the match against his former club. Villa will have a similar squad to the one which faced United on Monday evening, which seemed to play very well against them. This is a threat that United will need to avert, or face another poor result.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo and Cavani to lead the attack against Villa with Fernandes behind them? A midfield three of Van de Beek, Fred and Sancho could work? Jones and Varane in defence?

This match is important for United. Anything less than a win is going to make it harder to succeed this season. It is already going to be tough to break back into the top four and stay there as the clubs above United seem to be in much better form at this stage of the season. United’s players really owe something to the supporters as they have stuck by the club and this is the result of sticking up for the players – who are getting paid massive sums of money to play a game that they love. Tweeting after bad results has become tiresome and I would rather not read that as these players try to absolve blame and say how much better they will be next time.

It seems likely that David De Gea will keep his place in goal with Dean Henderson still waiting for a chance to show what he can do. In defence, with Luke Shaw suspended, Alex Telles could be back in at left-back with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back with Diogo Dalot a doubt because of the cut he received on Monday evening. Raphaël Varane should keep his place but Phil Jones should get a chance to cement his place in the team. With Scott McTominay suspended, Donny van de Beek, Fred and Jadon Sancho should start in a three-man midfield with Bruno Fernandes playing ahead of them. Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani should lead the attack.

Match Prediction: Beating Villa is important for United. That said, the fight, desire and determination will need to return otherwise this club will continue the decline that has already been prevalent this season.

Earlier this season, United lost 1-0 to Villa in the Premier League at Old Trafford. Knocking Gerrard’d side out of the Emirates FA Cup has seen United head in the right direction after the shock defeat to Villa, who have lost 11 of their 19 matches played this season. United need to ensure they win this match but they are never easy at Villa Park. Last season, United won 2-1 at Old Trafford with Anthony Martial and a Bruno Fernandes penalty cancelling out Bertrand Traore’s equaliser. But this United side, at the moment in time, it not working as well as it should and the fight, desire and determination has long gone and needs restoring.

At Villa Park last season it was a 3-1 victory to United with Traore opening the scoring for the home side and Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani scoring to get three points in the bag, doing the double over the Birmingham club. This United will need to turn up against Villa on Saturday, ensuring that they get the win, don’t end up being overrun and stop the club from doing the double over them in the league this season, which would be a big form of embarrassment. United should be winning these matches easily, not allowing them to be overrun by the same club who tend to flirt with the Championship time and time again.

Manchester United 2-1 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

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

Manchester United prepared to wait until the end of the transfer window to sign Jack Grealish

Manchester United are reportedly willing to wait late in the summer transfer window before making a move for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. The Sun has reported that the 24-year-old still seems to be on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s radar this summer and it would make sense leaving a possible deal for the attacking midfielder until later in the transfer window, being that it will not close util the 5 October this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Birmingham club will be seeking £80 million for the 24-year-old which is a pretty high price to pay for a player who has yet to see a trophy up close and personal after winning it. It may sound harsh but that is the case with Grealish. It is nothing against him, more against his club who value him too highly. At the end of the day, Villa would fall apart if he left the club so trying to deter a club from purchasing him is probably why they value him as highly as they do.

As United seem to be making a move for Jadon Sancho, not matter what the latest reports say – everything always turns into a goal opera with United, possibly so the media can make as much money as possible by making it seem that a transfer is happening, then isn’t, then is happening again, which gets boring when you see it happen all of the time. Obviously, when strengthening the club, signing the higher profile players first of all would be a better plan.

Then, once the higher profile players have been brought into the club, and Solskjaer has gotten rid of the players that he wants to sell, loan or whatever, from the first team, the space will be there to bring in other players to replace those that have left, such as Grealish, if there is still a need to add players like him at the time. I think he would do a job at United, possibly better to have him than the likes of Jesse Lingard, who has been poor for well over 18 months now.

Grealish will need to understand that there is no guarantee that he would start regularly for United. I am sure he probably will understand as that seems to be the case with players who make the step up to bigger clubs. With United back in the UEFA Champions League next season, even though they were playing in the UEFA Europa League this season, the squad will need to be able to compete in that and the two domestic cup competitions; the Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup.

The Daily Mail suggest that any interest in Grealish this summer will start at £80 million, so that being said in that way would suggest that the figure is just the starting point and that Villa would require more in order to let the player leave. The the likes of Donny van de Beek are available for around half that amount, I am sure that United will be looking around to see what types of players they could bring into the Old Trafford club this summer. I don’t think Grealish is worth £80 million to be honest.

Written by John Walker

Aston Villa co-owner to demand massive transfer fee for Jack Grealish this summer

Aston Villa co-owner Nassef Sawiris will demand what seems like an extortionate transfer fee for Jack Grealish this summer. Manchester United have been linked with the player since last summer with suggestions that the club would make a move for the attacking midfielder this summer, whether Villa were relegated from the Premier League or not. They managed to survive on the final day fo the season with Watford and Bournemouth joining Norwich City back in the Championship.

It has been stated by The Mirror that the stubborn co-owner of the club will demand United pay £80 million for the 24-year-old, which is a massive fee and one which might not be worth it. However, United being United, if they are still interested in signing the Villa captain, they could try and broker a deal and end up paying the demanded fee months after it was first stated. Unless things have changed at the club, of which I am hopeful for.

Grealish is considering his future after scoring against West Ham United on the final day of the season, only for the home side to equalise minutes later, with the match ending with Villa fraught and not knowing whether their position in the Premier League was safe or not, finding out that Watford were beaten by Arsenal and Bournemouth beat Everton but it was not a big enough victory to force Villa into the bottom three of the table. They celebrated the result, which seemed strange to see.

Grealish is contracted at Villa until the summer of 2023, meaning the club hold the upper hand over a possible transfer this summer. The player will ultimately make up his mind regarding his future, which could mean he continues at the club for another season, seeing if they can change their fortunes or compete in another season-long relegation battle, which could well be the case after this season. Grealish loyally stood by Villa the last time they were relegated and was the stand out player in their promotion back to the Premier League last season.

The player has high hopes for his career – winning silverware, playing in the UEFA Champions League and playing for England. It would seem that the first two were unlikely at Villa and with United seemingly interested in the player this summer, there are no guarantees that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will wait for another season before signing him, needing some strengthening in the squad this summer. If Grealish is a player that is priced out of a move to United, the Old Trafford club will look elsewhere with other players on the market this summer.

That is the risk that both Grealish and Villa will need to take. Personally, I feel an £80 million fee is a bit much for the player, especially in the fact that the coronavirus pandemic will have reduced player’s selling prices this summer and there is no way Grealish is a £100 million plus player. It has been suggested this season that the asking price would still be that high if Villa were relegated, which is laughable. This season, the 24-year-old made a total of 41 appearances, playing in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup, scoring 10 goals and eight assists. This will be up to the player and his club to sort out in the coming weeks. United will decide what to do from there, I guess.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW