United get their revenge on Aston Villa

Manchester United came away with a 1-0 victory at home to Aston Villa, finally getting revenge on the Villans who beat the Red Devils 3-1 at Villa Park in November. The solitary goal came from captain Bruno latching on to a loose ball after Emi Martinez parried Rashford’s effort into his path. A much-deserved win, barring two few nervy moments with De Gea having to make one save and Lindelöf clearing off the line.

Ten Hag once again got his personnel right, albeit fans, including myself, questioning him for benching Antony and Wan-Bissaka who are both so important on that right flank. Lindelöf partnered Shaw again in central defense, and they were both flawless, almost every bit as good as a Varane – Licha partnership. Sabitzer’s industry was essential as always – this time in the 10 with Bruno operating on the right. Dalot also impressed, moving back to his more familiar right back role, having played on the left for the past couple of games. Malacia deserves his flowers too, impressing after a tough couple of weeks for him.

Casemiro – class is permanent

Casemiro had come under some criticism over the past couple of weeks, clearly being a tad off-pace after his suspension. The serial winner proved once again that form is temporary, but class is permanent, producing a man of the match performance. He and Eriksen were untouchable in midfield.

Casemiro had the entire Villa midfield on strings, destroying everything that came his way. He combined his duel winning with exquisite passing, completing 6 of the 10 long balls he attempted. He had his customary heart-in-mouth tackles that could go either way, but this time he came out unscathed. The destroyer could even have had himself a goal – most notably hitting the post after he gave Emi Martinez the eyes, duping him to go far post before crashing one off the crossbar at the near post.

His impact on this team was further reiterated as his presence and security allowed the centre backs, who are both comfortable in possession, to step into midfield and drive the team up the pitch.

Luke Shaw and Lindelöf – a perfect partnership again!

The duo, starting at centre back together for only the third time, were flawless again. Although untroubled for most of the game, the duo did not put a foot wrong. They complemented each other like an old couple. One of them, often Lindelöf, staying back as the more technically adept Shaw drove into midfield to get United’s attacking going.

Luke Shaw was class, as he has been all season when filling in at LCB. His quality in possession is arguably more valuable than his excellent defensive reading of the game. It is not every day a centre back records 100 touches a game with a 93% completion rate against a decent side like Aston Villa.

Lindelöf was Lindelöf as usual. He has had to wait for his chances this season, but when they do come, he doesn’t disappoint. The iceman was mercurial again, even making a goal-line clearance in a wild sequence that saw Villa almost score. The Swedish captain and Shaw were and have been so good together, it’s almost like Varane and Licha never left.

Sancho confident against Aston Villa

It still hasn’t quite worked out for Jadon Sancho yet, but we admittedly have seen some flashes of his old – Dortmund self, especially in the past two games. His confidence seems to be slowly on the rise after he scored his penalty in that semi-final win against Brighton in Wembley. He ran at Ashley Young every chance he got and even completed a couple of dribbles. Had he been a little more decisive and confident, perhaps he would have some more joy down the left against the timeless former Red Devil.

Bruno Fernandes makes United tick

Our magnifico being at the heart of everything is no longer news, and it was no different this afternoon. Ten Hag started Bruno on the right, and he did the job, as he always does. He was rewarded for his desire to get in the box and gamble on a goalkeeper spill, which is exactly what happened in the 39th minute. Bruno was on hand to expertly lift the ball from a tight angle above Emi Martinez and a sliding Tyrone Mings after the former parried Rashford’s shot into the Portuguese’s path.

His availability and quality remain unmatched. It is hard to believe he was in an ankle cast barely a week ago. He now has a goal and an assist in two games, all coming after twisting his right ankle in Wembley last Sunday.

The win over Aston Villa all but secures Top Four

Getting into the Champions League, what all United fans could have hoped for at the beginning of the season. If you had told me after that afternoon in Brentford that we would be comfortably on our way to a Top Four finish, possibly third, I’d have called you mad. A Champions League place, a Carabao Cup and another cup final on the way is something we could only have dreamed of. Ten Hag’s reds seem to have a Champions League spot on lock, only needing 9 points out of the remaining possible 18. The fixture list is rather kind with the only seemingly tough fixtures remaining being Brighton away on Thursday before we welcome Londoners Chelsea and Fulham in the last two match days.

7 points clear of rivals Liverpool and with a game in hand, a Top Four finish seems assured. Hats off to the Dutch tactician as he has well overachieved, only being let down by squad depth on account of unforgiving injuries.

Author: Macharia Mariga

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *