United Welcomes High-Flying Villa to Old Trafford

Last updated: December 30, 2020 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Friday, 20:00
Venue: Old Trafford
Coverage: Sky Sports
Home Form: DWWDW
Away Form: WDWWD
Last Meeting: Villa 0 – 3 Man United
Competition: Premier League

We wish you a happy new year and once the hangover has subsided, what better way to spend the evening than watching some football? Old Trafford is the venue for what should be an exciting clash between Manchester United and Aston Villa. Both teams are flying high in the league, join us as we preview the game.

It’s a golden era of football legends coaching their clubs. Mikel Arteta has started his managerial career at Arsenal. Frank Lampard calls the shots at Stamford Bridge and Ole Gunnar Solskjear at the helm of Manchester United. So far, it’s Solskjear that leads the pack, victory on Tuesday lifted his side to second, a mere two points shy of Champions Liverpool.

The Red Devils are having a good season after a slow start to this campaign. Early season defeats against Crystal Palace (3-1), Tottenham (1-6) and Arsenal (0-1) had made the Norwegian one of the favourites for the sack, but a nine-game unbeaten run in the league has eased the pressure on Ole, and with Mauricio Pochettino likely to go to PSG, the threat of Poch replacing him now appears to be over.

It’s not always pretty with United. Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against Wolves will not last long in many people’s memories, a tight, cagey affair which United won with a trademark goal in the dying seconds. Marcus Rashford hitting a left-foot shot that deflected off Wolves’ Romain Saiss and gave Rui Patricio no chance in the goal.

Despite the scrappy win, it’s worth remembering that Wolves are a team that United have struggled against in the past. The two teams have faced each other eight times in all competitions since Wolves promotion in 2018 and in that time United have won just twice (four draws and two wins each).

The strength and depth in the Manchester United squad in all areas of the pitch is incredible. Bruno Fernandes is currently the best midfielder in the Premier League with ten goals and seven assists this season. The Portuguese man has been delivering consistent world-class performances scoring or assisting on 31 occasions in the 28 times he has featured in the league. In attack, Marcus Rashford is having a fine campaign. The 23-year-old has seven goals and four assists in the fourteen games he has played. The bench is also looking strong with quality players they can call on if needed. Although not a long-term option at 33, Edinson Cavani has scored 284 goals in his long career and gives Ole options.

Aston Villa is this season’s big team’s slayers. On Monday, they inflicted more pressure on Frank Lampard by coming from behind to earn a point against Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge; however, Villa’s two outstanding results so far came against Arsenal and Liverpool. In early November, Villa travelled to the Emirates and beat Arsenal 3-0. Their best win of the season came against champions Liverpool, a stunning 7-2 victory which included a hat-trick from Ollie Watkins. Jack Grealish had three assists in the game and also scored two. Grealish has been in such great form this season that he earned an England call-up and has been attracting the interest of the big boys, even though the 25-year-old has recently signed a new contract at Villa.

Villa’s defence also deserves mention. The acquisition of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal for £20m is already looking a bargain and has been their rock behind the settled defence. Four clean sheets in the last five games (winning three and drawing two) boasting the best defence in the league achieving eight clean sheets. Winger Anwar El Ghazi is enjoying a purple patch, having netted five goals in five appearances. The Dutchman had previously only scored four in his last 37 games. He became the first player to score in 3 consecutive games for Villa since Tom Cleverly back in May 2015.

They are a well-settled team with an established starting eleven being fielded every week unless injury or fatigue sets in. This continuality has built a good understanding, communication, and link-up play. They are one of the biggest surprises this season after narrowly escaping relegation last season but look genuine contenders for European qualification this year. They have a good away record since losing to Liverpool back in July, they have lost just once in the last nine away games (five wins and three losses).

Team News

Bruno Fernandes delivers consistent world-class performances, scoring or assisting on 31 occasions in the 28 times he has featured in the Premier League.

Man United is second in the table, just two points short of Liverpool.

Aston Villa has the best defensive record in the Premier League with eight clean sheets with four coming in the last five games.

El Ghazi is a player on form, scoring five goals in five games.

Expected Line-Ups:

Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, James, Greenwood
Subs: Henderson, Tuanzebe, Fred, Mata, Lingard, Bailly, Dalot, McTominay, Matic, Beek
Injured: Rojo
Doubtful: Lindelof
Not available:
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez, Cash, Hause, Konsa, Targett, D. Luiz, Grealish, McGinn, Traore, El-Ghazi, Watkins
Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Engels, Guilbert, El Mohamady, Hourihane, Nakamba, Ramsey, Davis
Injured: Trezeguet, Wesley
Not available:

So Far This Season

. . .
Man Untied This Season Villa This Season
2nd League Position 5th
9 (6) Wins (away) 8 (5)
6 – 2 v Leeds Biggest Win 7 – 2 v Liverpool
3 (1) Draws (away) 2 (1)
1 – 6 v Spurs Biggest Defeat 0 – 3 v Leeds
Fernandes (10) Top Goal Scorer Watkins (6)
Y21, R1 Discipline Y27, R2
3 Failures to Score 2
29% Clean Sheets 57%
71% Both Teams to Score Games 36%
71% Over 2.5 Goals 64%
29% Under 2.5 Goals 36%
  • The two sides have met 50 times; The Red Devils have been dominant with 35 wins against Aston Villa who have just three wins with 12 draws.
  • United has an average of 1.50 goals per match, while Villa has an average of 2.14 goals per game.
  • Bruno Fernandes has been the centre of everything for Manchester United with ten goals and six assists.
  • Jack Grealish is Villa’s driving force, assisting six and getting on the scoresheet five times.

Head to Head

Last 5 meetings between the two sides
Date Competition Game Result First Goal-scorer
09/07/2020 EPL Aston Villa 0 – 3 Man U Fernandes 27’
01/12/2019 EPL Man U 2 – 2 Aston Villa Grealish 11’
16/04/2016 EPL Man U 1 – 0 Aston Villa Rashford 32’
14/08/2015 EPL Aston Villa 0 – 1 Man U Januzaj 29’
04/04/2015 EPL Man U 3 – 1 Aston Villa Herrera 43’

Conclusion & Betting Tips

Manchester United had a slow start to the season, but have since turned the corner, and a good run has seen them just two points leaders Liverpool, the closest they have been to the Premier League leaders at this stage of the season since Sir Alex Fergusson left the club. Are they title challengers? Probably not, especially with patchy home form but their progress is promising.

Aston Villa, alongside Leeds United, have been the biggest surprises so far this campaign. Favourites for relegation pre-season, they have stunned the experts with some excellent performances. Their 7-2 destruction of Liverpool is like an episode of the Twilight Zone, but it was no fluke. Lack of rotation has ensured consistency, but you do wonder if the team will eventually burn out.

Aston Villa has long been a good opponent for United; the Red Devils are unbeaten in the last seven against the Midlands team. However, this Villa team is a different proposition this year and will be a tough opponent. Both teams are enjoying good unbeaten runs (United ten league games, Villa five), but we do feel the strength in depth will give United a very narrow win. Therefore, we are going for a 2-1 win for United which is available @ 8/1 with bet365.