Saturday 15th January 2022
@Villa Park, Birmingham
KO: 17:30 GMT
Aston Villa and Manchester United meet for the second time in just six days in the late game today.
Villa were edged out of the F.A. Cup tie on Monday as they lost 1-0 but should be more than proud of the performance they put in which saw VAR prevent them from at least taking the game into extra time and in regards to key chances they will feel they deserved to win the tie inside the 90 minutes.
It has been an exciting week for Villa fans as new additions in Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne and Kerr Smith have arrived and it points towards the direction in which the owners and manager Steven Gerrard want to take the club.
Despite the poor record that Villa have against Manchester United, it is probably the most confident the fanbase have been before a game against them in some time and a win in the reverse league fixture earlier this season will only add to the confidence.
Both teams would really benefit from a win as Villa have had a tough run of fixtures but the performances haven’t always got the desired and in some cases deserved results.
Ralf Rangnick has been under pressure from large swathes of the United fanbase as well as pundits for not appearing to have a signature style or gameplan but it is still pretty early days in his caretaker management role.
As previously mentioned, the Villans won the league game earlier in the season with a 1-0 victory thanks to a late header from Kortney Hause before midfielder Bruno Fernandes blazed a stoppage time penalty over the bar for the hosts.
Aston Villa Team News
Manager Steven Gerrard revealed in his Friday media duties that new signings Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne would both be in contention to face Manchester United.
It would be more likely to see Digne start at left-back whilst Coutinho may feature from the bench due to his lack of game time at Barcelona.
John McGinn will miss out through suspension whilst Marvelous Nakamba and Leon Bailey continue to miss out through injury.
Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore are on African Nations Cup duty with Egypt and Burkina Faso respectively, although the Burkinese winger has tested positive for COVID within the last few days.
Possible starting line up:
Martinez, Digne, Mings, Konsa, Cash, Douglas Luiz, Sanson, Ramsey, Buendia, Coutinho, Watkins
Manchester United Team News
Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Phil Jones are all in contention to return the squad but it is unclear as to the certainty of this with Ronaldo being tipped to miss the game by some outlets.
Ralf Rangnick was quoted in his Friday media conference as saying: “They only trained yesterday for the first time. So as a team we have to wait for the final training session this afternoon, but right now they should be available for tomorrow.”
Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw are both suspended with Paul Pogba (thigh) continuing his recovery and defender Eric Bailly is on African Nations Cup duty.
Possible starting line up:
De Gea, Telles, Varane, Maguire, Dalot, Matic, Fred, Fernandes, Greenwood, Ronaldo, Rashford
Manchester United have typically played on the counter-attack this season with the majority of goals and chances coming from long shots and through balls.
Defensively they have conceded the majority of chances from attacks down the wings and set pieces.
24 of the 30 goals scored by United have come from open play with 3 goals resulting from counter attacks, 2 from penalties and a solitary an own goal.
41% of their attacks have come down the left wing with 33% the right-hand side and only 26% centrally.
However, 60% of their shots have come centrally with 58% coming from inside the 18-yard box and 37% outside of the box which highlights the need for Villa to cut down opportunities for United to cross.
Defensively, 18 of the 27 goals conceded this season have come from open play with 4 goals from set pieces, 2 from counter attacks, 2 own goals and a single penalty.
68% of the shots conceded from opposition sides have come centrally with a balance of 16% from either wing.
52% of shots conceded have come from inside the 18-yard box with 40% coming from outside the box.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer with 8 goals so far and Paul Pogba has the most assists with 7.
Goalkeeper David De Gea has been an ever-present figure in goal and has been key in winning several points for the Red Devils this season.
Manchester United are sixth in the ‘away table’ with 4 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses on their travels in comparison to Villa who sit 11th in the home table with 4 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses at Villa Park.
One to watch:
Perhaps not the most obvious choice but Fred is todays one to watch.
Despite him often being used as a scapegoat in the past, he has offered a lot for United this season and he one of the better players for the team on Monday evening.
His ball in for Scott McTominay’s headed goal came from dropping back into the pocket and creating space which he is clever in doing.
Fred is a defensively minded number 8 and one of those players that can often go unnoticed for the work he does to break up play and start attacks off.
Consistency has been his biggest issue but when he is good, he is a very good player.
The Brazilian leads the way for tackles won over the last three seasons for United and he is ranked as one of the best across the top-five European leagues for pressure and subsequent retrieval of the ball.
He is also in the top 3% for flipping interceptions to attacks which shows his ability to move the ball quickly and open up attacks.
With McGinn missing today and the majority of United’s shots conceded coming from central areas, he will be a key figure alongside whoever is chosen to partner him (likely Nemanja Matic or Donny Van De Beek).
Head to Head record:
Aston Villa 50 wins, 40 Draws, Manchester United 102 wins
Last five meetings:
10 Jan 2022 – Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa (Premier League)
25 Sep 2021 – Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
09 May 2021 – Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United (Premier League)
01 Jan 2021 – Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
09 Jul 2020 – Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United (Premier League)
AVILLAFAN MATCH PREDICTION
After the game on Monday, you have to be positive and take the amount of chances created and misfortune of VAR and reflect on what could and perhaps should have been.
A later kick off means Villa Park under the lights and with the arrivals of Coutinho and Digne as well as the unveiling of the 1982 European Champions wall along the Trinity Road before the game, it could be one of those special nights. We hope!
Aston Villa 2-1 Manchester United
Tip of the day
If you back the score prediction, the 2-1 win for Aston Villa is available at around 17/2 currently.
Aston Villa win – 19/10
Draw – 12/5
Manchester United win – 11/8
Set pieces could be key today and either Ezri Konsa or Tyrone Mings are both good options to score.
Ezri Konsa is 6/1 to score any time and 16/1 first or last goalscorer.
Tyrone Mings is 10/1 to score any time and 28/1 first or last goalscorer.
If you combine the 2-1 and either player to score first, Ezri Konsa is 95/1 and Tyrone Mings 160/1!
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