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5 talking points as Manchester United claim three points vs Aston Villa



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Credit: IMAGO / PA Images

Manchester United claimed all three Premier League points against Aston Villa at Old Trafford via a Bruno Fernandes goal.

After a disappointing 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday evening, Manchester United took a lead against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon as Bruno Fernandes tapped in a rebounded effort in the first half to give United the lead.

With Villa having scored in every single fixture in 2023 ahead of the tie, United managed to keep their attacking prowess at bay, securing the 1-0 victory.

Here are five talking points from the game:

#1 – Villa’s high line caught United out

An immediate tactic spotted that was deployed by Unai Emery was a very, very high line that looked to catch United’s forward line offside.

With a front four of Rashford, Sancho, Eriksen, and Fernandes, United were looking to break away and send themselves through on goal but got caught offside six number of times in the first half.

The front line just failed to time their runs correctly time and time again, with the opening 35 minutes seeing Villa execute their high line to near perfection. This was until Rashford managed to break through the line, run on goal and have a shot saved by Emiliano Martinez, where Fernandes then latched onto the parried save to dink the ball in for an opening goal.

#2 – Fernandes silences Villa fans

Bruno Fernandes and Aston Villa fans do not have the most cosy and wholesome of relationships.

Starting back when United beat Villa 3-0 at their own ground in July 2020, Fernandes won and scored a rather controversial penalty when he was deemed to have been fouled in the area, despite replays showing he stepped on Douglas Luiz’s leg.

Since then, Villa fans have targetted Fernandes every time the two sides have met – and it was Fernandes who came out on top in the first half, staring at the away section at Old Trafford as he gave United the lead.

#3 – Lindelof is making a point

Coming in for the rest of the season after Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were both ruled out for the seasons through injury, many feared for United’s defensive abilities.

However, Victor Lindelof has played commendably since he has come in, putting in a fantastic performance against Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, and once more against Aston Villa on Sunday.

With Aston Villa being led by in-form Ollie Watkins, Lindelof played a key part in United keeping a clean sheet.

#4 – Rashford’s improved as a striker

United, in their last two games, have deployed Rashford as a central striker, rather than his normal position off the left. This has so far resulted in a great goal against Tottenham and the creation of Fernandes’ goal against Villa.

Previously, Rashford has looked uncomfortable while leading the line with his back to goal at times, but with Villa’s high line meaning he had space to run in behind, Rashford was able to attempt exploiting this, leading to Fernandes’ finish.

The same can be said for his goal against Spurs, which came from him running off his man from a more central position to drive forward and score past Fraser Forster.

With United in need of a dynamic to shake up their current offensive set-up, Rashford could provide Erik ten Hag with this as the season draws to a climax ahead of the summer transfer window.

#5 – Redemption

During Emery’s first fixture in charge for Aston Villa, United were thumped 3-1 at Villa Park in what was an embarrassing performance under Ten Hag.

However, this 1-0 victory sees United redeem themselves for the loss, gaining three crucial points as they look to lock their place in the Premier League top four.