Manchester United kept a clean sheet in a hard fought win over Aston Villa. It was partly with help from VAR, but that would be to detract from another impressive goalkeeping performance.

David de Gea played well once again, justifying Ralf Rangnick’s decision to stick with him and not call up wantaway Dean Henderson for the cup fixture.

Speaking after the game, Rangnick hailed De Gea’s performance in the 1-0 victory.

Rangnick told the club website: “We have to develop the team into a clean-sheet team and that was another one today but still David de Gea was outstanding again for me today.

“I would have wanted him to have less saves in total, I think we had four or five shots on [our] goal, but again we can still improve even in that area.”

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

De Gea ended the game as captain after Bruno Fernandes gave him the armband when he was taken off, with both Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo out injured.

FBL-ENG-FA CUP-MAN UTD-ASTON VILLA
(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Hard fought win

The goal was to get through to the next round, however it happened, after the woeful performance against Wolves a week ago.

United were not much better here in all honesty, but they did enough. Rangnick explained he was hopeful that United could kick on.

He said: “To say that this was a perfect game, nobody would believe that. Of course it was not. We still have quite a few things we can get better at but a clean sheet was important today and we worked together.

“There are still a lot of things to improve but it is easier to do that with a 1-0 win.”

Scott McTominay netted United’s first half winner with a header from a Fred assist, a truly rare assist to goalscorer combination.

Manchester United v Aston Villa: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Formation shift

In previous games United have used a 4-2-2-2, a flat 4-4-2, a 4-1-3-2, a 3-4-3, and against Villa, United added two more.

United began the game with a 4-2-3-1 before shifting to a midfield diamond, with Rangnick pushing United to be adaptable.

After the game he added: “We decided to play with a 4-2-3-1 with Edi up front, and with Bruno our no.10. But again, against a flexible midfield, at times, it was difficult, because with their 10s behind our sixes, ahead of our central defenders, it’s not too easy to defend that.

“It’s pretty challenging. As I said, after we changed to a diamond, it got better.”

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