Aston Villa dominated a flustered Manchester United at Old Trafford Saturday. Fresh from their mid-week Carabao Cup shock exit to West Ham, United was looking to prove their title winning doubters wrong. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made wholesale changes to the line up that lost to West Ham. Edinson Cavani was finally ready to get his goal scoring campaign going for United, taking Juan Mata’s seat on the bench. Victor Lindelof found himself as a substitute as well, replacing Eric Bailly on the bench.
Ole decided to put Paul Pogba on the left side of midfield, with Mason Greenwood on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo up top in attack.
Unwilling to start another pair as the two holding midfielders, Ole had McTominay and Fred in their usual roles in front of the back line. This was going to be a tricky match for United. Belief in the team’s title winning ambitions has been shaken after their recent performances.
Ole needed to start the match attacking and pressing Villa in order to create some confidence. He needed to show everyone that he knew what to do to get things going in the right direction this season. With United having won 18 of their last 21 home matches against Aston Villa, Ole just needed to get his team selection and subs correct to give United the best chance to win.
Despite starting the match conservatively, United was able to create 28 chances. Only a handful actually troubled Emiliano Martinez. Villa’s midfield was set up to catch United on the break and was able to get shots on goal way to easily. Villa had the bulk of the better chances and really should have won the match at least 3 – 0. United’s best attempt in the first half came early.
From a United throw in, the ball finds it’s way to Mason Greenwood who passes to Shaw breaking down the left. Shaw then centers the ball to Bruno Fernandes at the top of Villa’s box. Fernandes lets a left footed, half volleyed shot fly over Villa’s goal. We would see the same wild shot again much later in the match from Fernandes.
Uniteds First Injury
In the 26th minute Luke Shaw picks up a knock and has to come off. Later, Ole would say that Shaw needs to have a scan done to find out he extent of injury. As of right now, it looks like he will be out for the mid-week match against Villarreal. Last season was Shaw’s first season at United where he didn’t have to sit out due to injury.
He has had some incredibly bad luck with injuries in his career so lets hope this isn’t anything serious. Diogo Dalot came on for Shaw halfway through the first half. He did have some good moments in the match but ultimately showed why he starts on the bench.
Second Half Injury
Villa started the second half right where they left off in the first. They created chance after chance, getting threw the midfield with ease. United’s best attacking player was Greenwood who created chances throughout the match but couldn’t find the back of the net. Greenwood ran himself into the ground trying to find the winner.
He would pop up all over the pitch trying to make something happen. In the 54th minute Maguire picks up an injury and tries to play through the pain. He was only able to make it to the hour mark and had to be subbed off for Victor Lindelhof. With Shaw and Maguire both gone United’s defence looked even more susceptible on the break. Douglas Luiz and the rest of Villa’s midfield bossed United’s midfield around the park and tested David De Gea regularly in the second half.
Villa Get Their Goal
In the 89th minute Kortney Hause gets Villa’s goal with a flicked header from a corner. Hause found himself a free header getting away from United’s zone defence. The goal was a long time coming and United looked deflated after it went in. The defense looked like they didn’t know who or where to mark players. Hopefully United will get their defense sorted for Wednesday’s Champions League match against Villarreal.
Fernandes Late Penalty
Late in second half stoppage time United get a penalty after Hause handles the ball in the box. Fernandes whips in a cross that Cavani heads towards goal but the ball ends up hitting Hause’s arm on its way down. The ref, Mike Dean, whistles for the penalty right at the end.
Fernandes grabs the ball and says that he’s the one who’s going to take it. He puts the ball down and decides to go with power in his shot rather than placement. Just like his shot in the first half the ball goes blazing over the bar. Everyone was wondering who would be United’s spot kick taker now that Ronaldo’s back.
After this pen from Fernandes, it should be Ronaldo who takes it next time. That was United’s last opportunity to draw level and get at least a point. Aston Villa ends up going home with all three points.
What Was Ole Thinking?
Watching this match you can’t help but wonder if Ole is really the right man to bring trophy’s back to United. OIe will always be a legend at United but he is just not the seasoned manager that United desperately need right now. He looks like he is way over his head and isn’t sure of his decisions.
Why did he wait so long to bring Cavani on? Why does he put McFred as the holding midfielders against Villa’s counter-attacking midfield? The coming month is a tough one and is going to really test Ole. We have huge matches in our near future, let’s hope that he can make the right decisions to get us through October.