Manchester United vs Aston Villa result – 5 things we discovered as …

21

1. Aston Villa’s midfield better than Manchester United’s?

With Scott McTominay unable to play any part due to injury, it was a defensive midfield two of Fred and Andreas Pereira for Manchester United today. Keane/Scholes they are not.

About Manchester
Manchester () is a major city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 534,982 as of 2018 (4th most populous English district). It lies within the United Kingdom’s second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.9 million, and third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.
The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. It is historically a part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire south of the River Mersey were incorporated in the 20th century. The first to be included, Wythenshawe, was added to the city in 1931. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township, but began to expand “at an astonishing rate” around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester’s unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world’s first industrialised city. Manchester achieved city status in 1853. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, creating the Port of Manchester and directly linking the city to the Irish Sea, 36 miles (58 km) to the west. Its fortune declined after the Second World War, owing to deindustrialisation, but the IRA bombing in 1996 led to extensive investment and regeneration. Following successful redevelopment after the IRA bombing, Manchester was the host city for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Manchester is the third most visited city in the UK, after London and Edinburgh. It is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections.
A city of notable firsts, Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station. The city has also excelled in scientific advancement, as it was at The University of Manchester in 1917 that scientist Ernest Rutherford first split the atom, in 1948 Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn, and Geoff Tootill developed and built the world’s first stored-program computer, and in 2004 Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov successfully isolated and characterised the first graphene.

Manchester United vs Aston Villa result: Five things we learned as …

About United
United may refer to:

Contrast this makeshift duo with Aston Villa trio and the difference is stark. Injuries have played their part, of course, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s duo is makeshift and unbalanced, without clear quality in either possession or defence.

Download the new Indpendent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Manchester United vs Aston Villa result: Five things we learned as …

Villa’s three, conversely, are a three with energy and purpose, and clearly defined roles that provide structure to this Aston Villa side.

Was the midfield picked by the visitors today better than Manchester United’s? Perhaps, and that we are able to ask that question seems an indictment in and of itself. It is not one we should really be asking.

2. Grealish’s obvious qualities have him knocking on England’s door – but where he fits is a question to be answered

It was a quite wonderful opener from Jack Grealish, jinking on to his right foot and curling delightfully into the far corner. Grealish is an accomplished and intelligent footballer to go along with natural pace and aptitude for space, and he should be right in the cut and thrust of selection discussions come next summer’s Euros.

Where the Aston Villa man could miss out, however, is due to his position. The great proponents of his England candidacy have generally touted him as a midfield alternative, but for Villa recently he is thriving on the left. 

Versatility is typically seen as a great boon for a player, but it can be curse as well as blessing. If Grealish is seen as a winger, he will struggle to find a home in a squad particularly competitive in that area with Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s continued growth. Dele Alli’s resurgence makes the creative midfield role increasingly congested, too.

While having a player comfortable in a number of spots is useful at any tournament, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could serve a similarly dual purpose for Gareth Southgate’s side, and it seems unlikely that Grealish will displace the Liverpool man.

Jack Grealish of Aston Villa celebrates after he scores (Getty Images)

3. Manchester United construct a set-piece goal but Villa the architects of their own downfall

Aston Villa were dominant for most of the first half, looking the far more dangerous side and unfortunate that Jack Grealish’s trailing boot saw Trezeguet’s goal chalked off for offside.

But they were the architects of their own downfall as Manchester United levelled. Tyrone Mings has made a couple of errors recently, and his failure to clear allowed Marcus Rashford to win a corner.

United worked it superbly with a short move down the right, creating a different angle for Andreas Pereira to deliver from, with Rashford capitalising on confusion at the far post to head in, via the post and the back of Tom Heaton.

4. Roving Rashford shines in tweaked role

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford celebrates (PA)

Marcus Rashford’s first half was another relatively poor one for a man who seems to have more days off than on in a Manchester United shirt at the moment.

He looked indecisive in the final third and on several occasions failed to commit to his chosen option, missing chances as a result. He nearly contrived to miss the simplest of headers for the leveller, too, fortunate in the end for the helping shoulder blade of Villa’s Tom Heaton.

In the second half his role appeared to be tweaked, moving more centrally and given a freer rein to roam. He looked immediately more effective, picking and choosing his moments to peel wide or burst forward.

Rashford is not your traditional playmaker, but his pace, directness and ability to pose different questions are assets for such a role. It is certainly an option to consider for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the number ten position remains an issue.

5. Breathless second half breaks open game

The shifting of Marcus Rashford proved an instigator for the contest, in fact, with both sides jolted into life after the interval. With Manchester United hauled out of their shells by a half-time chat and tactical tweak, they took the game forward, and Victor Lindelof’s goal came as momentum built.

But Aston Villa were not to be cowed. They were, perhaps, a touch respectful in the first half, but actioned quickly a movement to get back into the game, and after a short spell of pressure cracked open the United defence.

Tyrone Mings volleyed well on the swivel after United’s offside trap was caught out, and we were back level. The second half continued to rattle along afterwards and both sides had chances to find a winner, but 2-2 was about the right outcome for an even contest.

United miss the opportunity to go fifth in the Premier League table, while Villa’s point leaves them three points clear of the relegation zone.