Aston Villa vs Manchester United – Game 35 (5/9/2021)

This visit by Man U to Villa Park is going to be decided by which team wants the victory more.  That the motivation level is likely to be similar, a draw is a likely outcome.  Arguably, Villa have more to play for.  They are in with a chance to make the Europa Cup Tournament next season if they win, whereas Man U’s fate is all but decided.  Unless they tank, then they will compete in next season’s Champions League on the basis of a top four performance in the Premiership.

Still, it is hard to see Villa exposing their captain, Jack Grealish, to an intense outing after missing 11 games with a leg injury.  While he may sit on the bench, he might be just decoration, as Mbappé was in PSG’s Champions League semifinal.

What Villa will bring to this fixture is a level of maturity and patience that it has taken this roller coaster season to acquire.  Their early season success was a bubble that burst without their talisman but was already in decline.  They were not prepared for disciplined teams like West Ham and Brighton and lost games they should have won.

Their recent performances have shown that they can play with patience and come back from a deficit or turn a tie into a win.  When they did lose their patience against Man City and lost their man advantage, I believe they learned a lesson.  They could have very easily squeezed a point from that game and that would have been a seminal moment.

Perhaps the symbolism of a visit of a team that has dominated them for years will be enough to make them reach down and find the will to make a statement.

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