Manchester United vs Aston Villa – Pre-game Assessment

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Manchester United’s manager must be feeling that his team is coming together at just the right time.  Their City rivals have stumbled out of the gate and that three points advantage arriving the same time as they secured Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, and Cristiano Ronaldo puts his team in the driver’s seat.  With solid international stars in each starting position and a bench with comparable caliber players, he needs no additions.

Teams coming to Old Trafford will have a difficult time withstanding the Red Devils.  In addition to Ronaldo’s scoring threat, especially aerially, Greenwood is a natural sniper and Fernandes is lethal from anywhere in range.  Not to be forgotten is that Maguire is hard to defend from set pieces.

So, how do Villa contend with such talent and the constant pressure they impose?  To start with, our Villans have to play errorless soccer like they did against Everton.  They also have to make the most of set pieces themselves with Mings, Konsa and Hause aggressively going after goals.

From open play, Watkins must continue to pressure defenders carrying the ball and run the channels to get behind the backline, with Ings and midfielders not hesitant to shoot, even from distance.  De Gea is susceptible to deflections (e.g., he was totally flat-footed when Benrahma’ s shot caromed off Varane in their West Ham game).

Another card Smith could play from his deck, is to start Ashley Young for Matt Targett.  Last year’s players’ player of the year has been bothered by a couple of knocks and not been reaching the same level that got him that recognition.  Meanwhile, Young brings incredible experience (having captained Man U.) to the game and could be more effective in containing Greenwood.  Most significantly, it was a Young assist that set-up Gabby Agbonlahor’s winner the last time our Villans prevailed at Old Trafford. 

That was in 2009.  Who does not think it’s time to repeat?  UTV.

Man U. likely starting XI

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba, Ronaldo

Aston Villa likely starting XI

Martinez; Mings, Hause, Konsa; Cash, Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey, Young, Ings, Watkins.

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