Manchester United vs Aston Villa 5 Things We Learned

Manchester United came out victorious against Aston Villa with yet another “Jekyll and Hyde” performance. The Reds came out much sharper in the second half and took the game to Villa. The 3-1 win eased the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, who have a busy schedule in the coming weeks. So, let’s look at five thing we learnt from this league encounter.

Credit: The Times
Edison Cavani celebrates in style after making it eight goals in his last seven appearances

1.The United way

Yet again the Red Devils made themselves work hard for the three points. Bertrand Traore gave the Midlands club the lead in the first half. Although, United were not poor in the first half there was a lack of urgency in regard to the passing. Significantly, there was a lack of creativity after United’s initial 15-minute spell of dominance.

Like normal Solskjaer’s men came alive in the second half and became much more threatening after going a gold down. Paul Pogba won a penalty with some quite impressive footwork in the opposition box. Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz gave away a penalty for the second time this season against both Pogba and United. Talisman Bruno Fernandes put it away and got United back on level terms, before wonder kid Mason Greenwood put United ahead with a sublime strike minutes later. In the dying stages of the game, Edison Cavani got his customary goal following a delightful cross from Marcus Rashford.

Amazingly, Manchester United have got 31 of their points after falling behind. This is a quite remarkable stat, which reflects the idea of Solskjaer enforcing that never die mentality into his players.

2. United delay City celebrations with win at Villa Park

It is widely known that Manchester City will be Premier League champions come the end of the season. However, the Old Trafford faithful will be frustrated with their team for the high number of draws this season. For example, United gave away a last-minute goal in the league game against Everton in stoppage time. Moreover, these games where United have lost points due to individual errors have almost given City the title. If, the Red Devils had made some of these draws into wins versus inferior sides such as West Brom they would have been much closer to their rivals. Furthermore, this fallacy of winning the clubs 21st title would have become more of a reality.

Despite this, the Reds came back from behind to delay City’s title celebrations for at least a few more days. City did not win against Chelsea, which meant defeat for United at Villa Park would have crowned Manchester City as champions. The slightest of chances remains that the Citizens could slip up and United could capitalize. But, with United’s busy schedule and the need to rotate, it remains extremely unlikely.

3. Defensive disaster-class vs mediocre Villa attack

There is a growing feeling around Old Trafford that this summer transfer window will be busy with many incomings and outgoings. Likewise, there is also a growing feeling that Manchester United must bring in defensive reinforcements. This is because of countless defensive mistakes, which will eventually comeback to haunt the Reds. A new central defender is required to partner Harry Maguire as Victor Lindelöf is yet to prove himself consistently. The Swedish international always looks shaky and there is always a feeling that he may make a mistake in a crucial moment. Eric Bailly, who recently put pen to paper on a new deal, has never proven his fitness across a whole season.

Coinciding with this, the Manchester club also require a new defensive midfielder. Nemanja Matic is now past his best, in which he does not have the capabilities to play multiple games in a week. Fred and Mctominay do not offer enough going forward to warrant a starting place in the team on a weekly basis. The pair are often first names on the team-sheet simply because of the Red’s defensive vulnerabilities.

In this game, Fred, Mctominay and Lindelöf all made costly errors. The Brazilian midfielder, Fred, put Mctominay in a difficult position with a sloppy pass. Mctominay then miss-controlled the pass and the ball evaded the Scotsman. Lindelöf then did not prevent Traore from getting a shot away and United were 1-0 down. It is games like this where the need for defensive signings becomes even more apparent. Manchester United’s deadly attack did paper over the defensive cracks with some fine finishing, but it is a necessity that Solskjaer gets the singings he needs.

4. Mason makes the difference vs Villa

Mason Greenwood, 19, is one of the most exciting prospects in English football. Greenwood put in a devastating display in his pursuit of a spot in Gareth Southgate’s Euro squad. This season has been a difficult one for the teenager both on and off the field. Yet, the Englishman has put in some spectacular performances in recent weeks. As well as pursuing a spot in Southgate’s squad, the youngster will want to consolidate his position in Solskjaer’s squad next season. Whispers have come out of Old Trafford that Manchester United are looking for another forward to bolster their attack. However, Greenwood’s run-in front of goal may change United’s summer plans. Jadon Sancho has been Solskjaer’s top target for some time now, but where would this signing leave Greenwood?

Regardless of incomings Greenwood has given his boss a dilemma, as Solskjaer looks to build a title-winning squad. Greenwood was lively in both halves of this game. In the first half he found Rashford in a promising area, but United’s number ten could not find the back of the net. When, Villa took the lead, Greenwood took matters into his own hands. The dynamic forward went on a solo run and stung the gloves of Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez with a powerful shot.

Like the team in general, Greenwood put an even better showing in the second half. The England international was rewarded for his persistence with a goal in the 56th minute. Greenwood held off Tyrone Mings before easing past him and unleashing a rocket into the back of the net. A trademark finish from the forward, got the youngster some rest, as he was taken off with one eye on United’s next fixture.

5.Injury worries ahead of busy schedule

Solskjaer will be incredibly nervous as he awaits news regarding Harry Maguire’s injury. The United skipper had not missed a minute of Premier League action before Sunday’s game. Maguire was taken off following an off the ball collision and left Villa Park wearing a support boot. Although, Maguire will be Solskjaer’s biggest concern, Marcus Rashford was also in discomfort following a hefty challenge. Rashford has many ongoing injury issues and it is likely that he will require a rest during this busy schedule.

The focus of the camp will be immediately brought to the next game against Leicester on Tuesday. Two days later United will then host rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford. By the end of Manchester United’s thirty-sixth fixture, they will have played three games in five days. It is quite incredible that these fixtures are set to continue in this manner.

Solskjaer has already said it is physically impossible to pick his strongest side in each of these three games. Ultimately, this will also affect the race for Champions League qualification. As, both Leicester and Liverpool are in the “top 4 race” and United face both sides with one day rest in between. It seems like United have been given this busy schedule to their involvement in the Super League and in light of the recent protests. Despite this, Everton’s win over West Ham meant that the Red’s will be definitely playing Champions League football next season.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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