Manchester United’s three best players against Aston Villa

Manchester United showed signs of improvement in both halves of this evening’s trip to face Aston Villa at Villa Park.

But there were times when Villa turned up the tempo and United could cope. Eventually, United wilted and lost two points.

Amongst that, there were impressive individual performances in the Red Devils ranks during what was arguably the best team display of Rangnick’s reign despite the result.

Here is a look at United’s three best players in the 2-2 draw…

Bruno Fernandes

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images


Fernandes was captain here and was again fielded in the number ten position where he looks most comfortable.

He got his night underway in the best possible fashion, scoring after a smartly worked free-kick, although he owed plenty to a howler from Emi Martinez.

That seemed to give the Portugal midfielder confidence as he went on to boss the opening 45 minutes.

When he made it 2-0 on 67 minutes, he looked on course to win the man of the match award in a United win, but it wasn’t to be.

As per WhoScored, nobody had more shots on target for United, and he also got stuck in defensively with three tackles.

This was Bruno close to his best; energetic, pressing and making things happen, while being clinical in front of goal. The result was a frustration but this could be a springboard for Bruno.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

David de Gea

Even when United were playing well, they needed de Gea to make sharp saves and be alert on more than one occasion either side of half-time.

He continued his fine form this season and earned praise from Roy Keane in the Sky Sports studio at half-time.

There was nothing he could do about either goal, and the result was just the result of United’s formation creaking under pressure from Villa and de Gea cannot dig them out of trouble every time.

Not for the first time this season, he could have done with more protection from the players in front of him and United were not able to hold out.

Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images

Anthony Elanga

With Marcus Rashford out injured with a dead leg, Ralf Rangnick turned to Elanga ahead of Jadon Sancho on the left of United’s 4-2-3-1.

He impressed throughout, having four shots on goal – only Mason Greenwood took more – and was unlucky on a couple of occasions.

Elanga looked full of confidence, and that is not something which has always been said about the forwards at various points across the season.

He did enough to earn another opportunity against Brentford on Wednesday night, and the Swede scored against the Bees in pre-season.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.