Three reasons for Manchester United to be wary of Aston Villa

Manchester United have been handed a nightmare fixture schedule.

The match with Liverpool has been rearranged for Thursday 13 May.

That means United are playing Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday but then have a weekend off after that.

First up is Aston Villa this weekend. With Leicester and Liverpool to come, it would be easy to overlook Dean Smith’s side.

Coming on the back of a Europa League excursion too, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be tempted to make changes for the trip to Villa Park.


But it would be a mistake to underestimate Sunday’s opponents…

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Liverpool came unstuck

Liverpool still had Virgil van Dijk in the team when they went to Villa in October and were thumped 7-2.

It must be noted that Jack Grealish played that day – scoring twice – and he looks set to be injured for this one.

But Saturday’s win at Everton shows Smith’s side are learning how to win without their talisman.

Ollie Watkins is on a decent run of form and looking to try and catch Gareth Southgate’s eye now he’s got a 26-man squad for Euro 2021.

United cannot afford to take the trip lightly.

Revenge on Villa minds

Villa feel like they’ve been hard done by in their last two matches with United.

On New Year’s Day, Emi Martinez was among the players who took to Twitter to complain about the penalty won by Paul Pogba and converted by Bruno Fernandes to seal a 2-1 win.

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In July, during Project Restart, there was Villa fury about the spot-kick awarded for Ezri Konsa’s challenge on Fernandes, which allowed United to open the scoring en route to a 3-0 win.

Villa will be keen to avenge those perceived injustices and will sense an opportunity if United turn up undercooked.

Nothing to lose

It’s been a decent season for Villa. They survived on the final day of 2019/20 but currently sit tenth in the Premier League.

They’ve got no pressure on them and have had a full week to prepare for the game.

The onus is on United to navigate a ridiculous schedule to seal a place in next season’s Champions League and tighten their grip on second place.

The Roma, Leicester and Liverpool matches might catch the eye, but United cannot afford to let standards slip against Villa – or they’ll be punished.

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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.