Six things we learned as Manchester United lose 1-0 to Aston Villa

Manchester United lost their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 1-0 against Aston Villa.

Here are six things we learned as United were beaten at Old Trafford for the second time in a week…

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Shaw unlucky again

2020/21 was Luke Shaw’s first season at United which hasn’t been interrupted by injury.

But he limped off in the first half here, to be replaced by Diogo Dalot.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope that the England international only has a knock and will be fit for the Champions League clash with Villarreal.

If he is out for any length of time, it will be more bad luck for Shaw, who has started this campaign where he left off last time around.

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United look open

United have given pretty much every team they’ve faced this season opportunities, especially when the ball is turned over.

Villa had the better of the chances in the first half, with Matt Targett and Ezri Konsa missing from close range.

At home, United seem content to create an open game, trading blows and hoping that the quality of the players will get results.

It didn’t prove to be the case here, just as it wasn’t against West Ham on Wednesday night. Villa were deserved winners.

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Maguire tries and fails to play through the pain

There was a period just before the hour mark when it looked like Harry Maguire was going to come off injured but he battled through the pain for a short period.

This isn’t the first time Maguire has played on injured. In January 2020, he suffered a hip problem but made himself available through the rest of the season.

Then he rushed himself back for Euro 2020 and admitted he expected it to mean he’d play through the pain for months.

Maguire was maybe fortunate to get away with a foul on John McGinn which underlined how much his injury was impairing his speed.

He eventually came off after that and hopefully the issue isn’t too serious.

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United are really faltering

Since Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card against Young Boys, United haven’t played especially well for any length of time.

The performance in the win over West Ham was patchy, and the display here was disjointed and lacking confidence, worsening as the game went on.

Villa were causing plenty of problems at various times and the general level of performance must be a concern for Solskjaer, especially with two of his best defenders now injured too.

Individual brilliance will always give United a chance, but the overall standard of the performances needs to improve – and quickly.

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Cavani is back

The injuries to Shaw and Maguire left Solskjaer with only one attacking substitution to make.

You could argue it was made too late, but eventually Edinson Cavani came on for Scott McTominay.

We got our first glance of how he and Cristiano Ronaldo would work together, with the Uruguayan through the middle and the Portuguese on the left wing.

Cavani got a huge reception from Old Trafford on the first occasion he has played in front of a full home crowd since his arrival, but couldn’t make the difference on the day.

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Bruno on penalties… but for how long?

Part of the intrigue around Ronaldo’s arrival was who would be on penalties for United.

Bruno Fernandes got the responsibility under intense pressure in stoppage time but blazed it over the bar.

It was perhaps a surprise to see Bruno get the ball ahead of Ronaldo, but the number seven will surely want the next spot-kick.

United face their Europa League conquerors Villarreal in midweek and cannot afford another poor, wasteful display like this one.

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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.