Three reasons for Manchester United to be wary of Aston Villa

Manchester United face Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday night and it is fair to say the draw could have been kinder.

A home draw is always a plus so playing at Old Trafford is a boost, but the assignment remains a tricky one for United.

United go into the game on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Wolves, but have had a full week of training to try and put things right.

But it would be a mistake to underestimate Monday’s opponents and here are three reasons why…

Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is now in the Villa hotseat and he will be fired up to win at Old Trafford for the first time in his managerial career.

Gerrard will be determined to pile the misery on United following their abject loss to Wolves and take a major managerial scalp.

He has also improved Villa since he came in, organising them in such a way that they have pushed Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea close in recent Premier League games.

Gerrard will also likely look at how Liverpool ran amok at Old Trafford in October and see what he can learn, despite Ralf Rangnick having replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the interim.

Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

They have already won at Old Trafford this season

Before Villa went on a five-game losing run which cost Dean Smith his job, they won 1-0 at Old Trafford in September.

Kortney Hause’s header sealed all three points on an afternoon where Villa’s pace and energy caused United all sorts of problems.

Of course, Bruno Fernandes should have grabbed a point, missing his last-gasp penalty but Villa deserved their win on the balance of play.

Villa are a better side now, more confident under Gerrard and will have no fear about coming to Old Trafford having won there once already this season.

Spurred on by last season

Villa’s FA Cup campaign was over before it had even begun in 2021, when they had to play an incredibly youthful side against Liverpool because of a Covid outbreak.

They did actually take the lead through Louie Barry before slipping to a 4-1 defeat in a game where the odds were stacked against them from the start.

Villa are not going to get relegated and can afford to really attack the FA Cup because of that.

They will be looking to make up for last season by getting beyond the third round here, and will likely sense an opportunity against a United side short on confidence and unity right now.

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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.