Steven Gerrard planned to expose Cristiano Ronaldo on set pieces

It seems that it wasn’t just Manchester United fans that were disappointed by the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo in last night’s FA Cup tie.

United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick confirmed that the 36-year-old missed the third round clash with a ‘minor muscle problem’.

But according to BirminghamLive, Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard reportedly had a plan up their sleeves to get the upper hand on United from set-pieces through Ronaldo.

BirminghamLive spotted a screen-grab on a monitor with the words, ‘Expect Ronaldo to leave space’ from corners and free-kicks.

Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

It seems that the Villains had a clear plan which centred around trying to expose the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

With Ronaldo expected to be fit enough to return at Villa Park on Saturday, United’s number seven will have to be wary of Villa’s potential plan.

Although Ronaldo wasn’t playing, Villa did carry a threat from set-pieces, as they won a number of near post headers from corners in-particular which they luckily didn’t capitalise from.

Villa won the Premier League clash at Old Trafford in September via a set-piece.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Kortney Hause escaped Edinson Cavani and scored a header from a corner past David de Gea at the near post.

Cristiano Ronaldo is certainly used to being marked tightly in the opposition’s penalty area, but he may find a flurry of Villa players around him when he is tasked with fulfilling his defensive duties.

United’s set-piece coach Eric Ramsay will hopefully have a plan to combat Villa’s potential Ronaldo plan, and the great Portuguese will need the help of his teammates to ensure Gerrard’s plan doesn’t pay off.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.