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Ones to watch: Manchester United vs Aston Villa (Premier League)



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Manchester United hosts Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday in another pivotal game to secure Champions League qualification.

After a disappointing draw against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, Manchester United will be keen to get a positive result in their backyard, which has been a fortress this season.

Their opponent for the day, Aston Villa, has seen an emergence in form since Unai Emery’s appointment last October.

Read More: Manchester United predicted XI to face Aston Villa (Premier League)

In fact, Emery’s first game as a Villa manager was a 3-1 win against United. Not as if they need more motivation, Erik ten Hag‘s men will be keen to avenge that game in the league.

Speaking of one to watch, surely it has to be the referee, who would do well not to repeat Anthony Taylor’s failure to place United’s free-kick wall in the correct distance on that unpleasant day at Villa Park.

That being said, here are the players to watch for either team:

Manchester United: Bruno Fernandes

When he was reportedly out for the Spurs match, there was a collective worry amongst United fans. That shows the degree of importance Bruno Fernandes has on this team. As the de facto captain this season, Bruno is always at the heart of United’s fruitful attacking moves all season long.

In United’s previous league game at Old Trafford, Bruno was deployed in a deeper midfield role. He created six big chances in that game, two of which were big chances orchestrated from deep. Getting the ball in the early phases of build-up play, he managed to get 109 touches on the ball and 102 pass attempts.

This particular skillset might come in handy, as United will come up against a well-drilled Villa side who managed to keep clean sheets at home to Newcastle and away at Chelsea.

Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins

Having scored 5 goals in his last 6 games for Villa, Watkins will surely be one to watch from the away side for this match. With the absence of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane due to injuries, Ten Hag will most likely go for the pairing of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw in order to contain Watkins.

Starting his career as a winger, Watkins is more than capable of taking the ball on the run and making runs in behind the defenders. Standing at 6 ft, he is a threat in the air should Villa try and launch the ball into United’s box.

Another one of his best traits is his willingness to press opposition defenders and goalkeepers. This will significantly affect the way United’s build-up style for the game. Against Spurs, David de Gea opted for long balls more often than not. We might well see the same strategy to nullify Watkins’ pressing threat.