Manchester United will be aiming to beat Aston Villa twice in the space of a week when the two teams lock horns in the Premier League this weekend.
After having clashed against each other on Monday in the FA Cup third-round clash, Aston Villa and Manchester United will square off again on Saturday evening, this time out in the Premier League, at Villa Park.
The cup tie, which took place at Old Trafford, ended 1-0 in favour of Manchester United even though Villa were the better team for large phases of the contest. The outcome, however, means that the Midlands outfit have now lost each of their last three fixtures in all competitions and four of their previous five. The run of results has left them in 14th place in the table, something manager Steven Gerrard will be hoping to change with a win.
As for Manchester United, the Red Devils continue to bear the look of an incohesive, disjointed side that is just not clicking at the moment. Despite the win over Villa in the cup tie, Ralf Rangnick finds himself in treacherous waters as he looks to guide the side up the table and back into the top four race. The 1-0 loss to Wolves in their last Premier League game meant that United are six points off of West Ham, although the Mancunians still have two games in hand.
The reverse fixture, played at Old Trafford in September last year, saw Aston Villa beat Manchester United 1-0. The Red Devils exacted revenge by dumping the Villans out of the FA Cup earlier this week. Ahead of their third meeting in the ongoing campaign, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 14, 2022
Aston Villa will be without key man John McGinn for the game due to a suspension for accumulation of cards. Apart from the Scotsman, Marvelous Nakamba, Ashley Young, and Leon Bailey are unavailable due to injuries, whereas Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore are away on international duty. New signings Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne could be in contention to make their debuts against Manchester United.
There are unlikely to be many changes made to the side that started in the FA Cup clash against Manchester United. Emiliano Martinez remains the undisputed starter in goal for the Midlands outfit. There is no looking past the pair of Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings at the heart of the defence, where they will be flanked by the full-back duo of Matty Cash and Digne.
Douglas Luiz will sit the deepest of the three midfielders, break up attacks, and drive his team forward when in possession. Support will come from Morgan Sanson, who should step into the lineup in place of the suspended McGinn. Jacob Ramsey will occupy the third spot in the centre of the park and look to recover his form after a few dull displays.
The trio of Emiliano Buendia, Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins caused all sorts of problems to the Manchester United defence in the cup clash and are expected to do so once again on Saturday evening.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Ramsey, Luiz, Sanson; Buendia, Ings, Watkins
Scott McTominay, who scored the only goal of the game in the cup tie earlier in the week, misses out due to suspension, as does Luke Shaw. However, Ralf Rangnick should be able to call upon the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Phil Jones and captain Harry Maguire, all of whom missed the FA Cup encounter. Paul Pogba remains sidelined, however, while Eric Bailly is away on international duty.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 14, 2022
Having switched up the formation to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 in the cup tie, Rangnick could stick with it on Saturday, with David de Gea set to start in goal. The returning Maguire should slot in alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of the Manchester United defence, replacing Victor Lindelof, who did not look convincing enough last time out. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles should slot in as the full-backs.
With McTominay ruled out, Donny van de Beek could be set for a rare run out in the middle of the park on Saturday. The Dutchman ought to partner up with Fred in the double pivot and provide further screening to the defence. Bruno Fernandes will take up the creative mantle starting as the No. 10.
The fit-again Ronaldo should spearhead the attack for Manchester United at Villa Park. Support from the wide areas should come from the English duo of Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho, with Marcus Rashford set to drop out of the lineup after his dismal display in the cup tie against the Villans. Edinson Cavani will provide cover from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Telles; van de Beek, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
- Manchester United have won 299 Premier League away games and would be the first side to reach 300 in the competition with a victory on Saturday.
- Aston Villa are winless in their last 22 home league games against Manchester United (D7 L15) since a 3-1 victory in August 1995.
- Manchester United could lose their opening two league games of a calendar year for the first time since 1985.
- Aston Villa won the reverse league fixture 1-0 and could do the double against Manchester United for the first time since 1954-55.
- Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in nine league starts versus Aston Villa.
Player to Watch
Marcus Rashford's expression on the bench after being subbed off said it all — poor, rock-bottom confidence, lacking self-belief and simply not good enough.
Don't know what's going on with him but hope he's able to turn this around. pic.twitter.com/2LoQCshIue
— UtdFaithfuls (@UtdFaithfuls) January 10, 2022
After watching his performance in the cup tie against Aston Villa, the general consensus among fans and pundits was that something is clearly off with Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United No. 10 looked to be lacking any sort of desire and willingness to make things happen on the night and put in one of his most disappointing displays for the Red Devils in a long time.
While that display may end up costing him his spot in the starting XI on Saturday, all eyes will be on Rashford if and when he does take the pitch from the bench. In 11 league games this term, he has managed a paltry return of two goals. Adding to that tally could be the confidence-booster that he deserves to kickstart his season and put an end to the struggles.
Aston Villa 2-1 Manchester United
Manchester United came out on top against Aston Villa earlier in the week, but the victory was hardly deserved. The performance was hardly convincing on the night, much like in the games against Wolves, Newcastle United or Norwich City. On the other hand, Villa are playing some very good football but have had results go against them in recent fixtures.
While the visitors may have a superior squad on paper, Steven Gerrard’s side pose a greater collective threat, and even though the absence of John McGinn might take something out of the team, they should have enough to get over the line on Saturday. The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow 2-1 win for the Villans against Ralf Rangnick’s men.