Manchester United take on relegation-threatened Aston Villa at Villa Park

When Manchester United travel to Villa Park later tonight, they will be looking for their fifth consecutive win in all competitions and also look to keep the momentum they’ve brought on since the project restart.

The Red Devils have enjoyed a massive turnaround since the restart, securing three wins in four matches while scoring 12 goals in the four matches played and conceding just 3 goals – a run of form that has put them on track to end the season in the top four.

Although, United currently sit on the fifth spot in the league table. However, with Leicester City dropping points against Arsenal, they could close the gap to just one point with a win over Aston Villa today, and this gives them the opportunity to usurp Chelsea by the end of next weekend.

That said, things may be tricky against Aston Villa side who have been one of the worst sides in the Premier League and can pull a surprise anytime. Recall that the reverse fixture back in December ended in a frustrating 2-2 draw for United at Old Trafford.

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Also, Aston Villa have only recorded 27 points on the board, and are still yet to win a single match since mid-January. So things are really hard for Dean Smith’s men who are at the risk of going further down the relegation sinkhole, especially with Watford securing a victory against Norwich earlier in the week.

These two sides ostensibly are chasing contrasting targets, and this will make the fixture a very interesting one.

And here, at The Football Castle, we will run the rule over this fixture.

Team News & Tactics

Aston Villa

Dean Smith is likely to miss out on the services of some of his trusted defenders (Matt Targett and Björn Engels) However, it’s possible to have John McGinn back to full fitness ahead of this game, as well as Tyrone Mings and the team captain and talisman, Jack Grealish.

McGinn being fit means he should retain his role in the midfield, but should Smith deploy a traditional 4-3-3, it would be sucidal considering the fact that United would have two notorious creative midfielders in action.

Hence, a 4-4-2 setup would be the real deal. United definitely would want to operate with Pogba and Fernandes, and it’s extremely difficult to want to tame these two great passers completely, but thier influence can certainly be reduced to a bearest minimum.

McGinn if fit should be partnered by the in-form Douglas Luiz in the middle of the park while Trezeguet and Grealish would share the two wings respectively, although the latter is expected to operate much further forward, looking to provide the creative essence.

In defence, the Aston Villa manager is unlikely to make any changes especially with Mings, who is set to partner Kortney Hause in central defence, back in contention.

Neil Taylor is a guaranteed starter at left-back while the opposite flank should be occupied by Ezri Konsa, and not forgetting Ahmed Elmohamady and Frederic Guilbert on standby.

And finally, in the attack, Anwar El Ghazi and Mbwana Samatta are almost guaranteed starters in the attacking positions.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Reina: Konsa, Hause, Mings, Taylor: McGinn, Luiz, Grealish, Trezeguet: Davis, El Ghazi

Manchester United

Anthony Martial shoots at goal at Old Trafford against Villa.
Anthony Martial taking on Villa in the first fixture in December. (Getty Images)

Not much would change for United in the starting eleven. Victor Lindelöf who picked up a back injury on Saturday against Bournemouth is a doubt heading into this fixture, this makes Eric Bailly the perfect candidate to partner with Harry Maguire in the defense.

There is unlikely to be any changes in the full-back slots too. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should retain their places in the side.

Meanwhile, in midfield, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are set to once again occupy their roles just ahead of the Scott McTominay or Nemanja Matić. They will be expected to provide the creative essence in the side as well as ease the team’s transition play.

The status quo is expected to be maintained upfront where the offensive combination of Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have done extremely well since the restart.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea: Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw: McTominay, Pogba: Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford: Martial.

Key Stats

Manchester United are unbeaten in 20 Premier League away games against Aston Villa (W13, D7) since losing 3-1 at Villa Park on the opening day of the 1995-96 season.

It is the longest unbeaten away run by one team against another in top-flight history.
Manchester United are looking to become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive matches by a margin of at least three goals.

Villa have won just one of their last 42 Premier League meetings with Manchester United (D11, L30), with their solitary victory coming at Old Trafford in December 2009.


Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United

Unless something drastic happens, this should be a comfortable win for the visitors. United have been amazing since the restart and the dazzling form of their attackers as well as the likes of Fernandes and Pogba should be enough to see them through the challenge of Aston Villa later tonight.

Babajide Adewunmi-EverBlazin
July 9, 2020
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