Home ยป Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United travelled to Villa Park, with Erik ten Hag looking to extend his winning streak in the Premier League after a hard-fought win against West Ham.

Ten Hag faced selection dilemmas everywhere and had to do without the services of Antony, Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes.

Anthony Martial was deemed to only be fit enough to start on the bench. The manager started Donny van de Beek and Alejandro Garnacho for the second game in a row after the pair were named in the starting XI against Real Sociedad.

Victor Lindelof was trusted to slot in next to Lisandro Martinez ahead of Harry Maguire.

Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s shock defeat against Aston Villa.

Horrific start

United got off to an extremely poor start, which saw the Red Devils concede twice in the space of just 12 minutes.

Leon Bailly looked dangerous all game and did well to ward off Martinez to fire a well-worked shot past David de Gea in the seventh minute of proceedings.

Four minutes later, Luke Shaw was judged to have committed a foul when he had to commit after Martinez gave him a hospital pass at the back. Luca Digne made no mistake from the ensuing free-kick and scored superbly with his left foot past a helpless De Gea who stood no chance.

To highlight United’s poor display in the opening 45 minutes, Unai Emery’s men had more possession heading into the break. 51% to United’s 49%. Villa registered the same number of shots on target as United.

The Reds were extremely poor in possession and conceded the ball a lot. Defensively, the players looked lethargic and lacked the aggression and spirited defending that has become a hallmark of Ten Hag’s reign at Old Trafford so far.

United failed to fashion any clear-cut opportunities and in the absence of Fernandes, seemed to lack any inventiveness and creativity.

Another major disappointing element of the first half is how easy Villa found it to beat United’s press and penetrate the midfield.

It could be argued that United were extremely lucky to finish the first half only a goal down after what can only be described as a despicable performance.

Poor defensive display

In the game against Villa, United were extremely poor defensively, the like of which was seen last in the derby drubbing.

All three goals scored by Villa were easily avoidable and the players’ frailties contributed to making it easier for Emery’s side to score.

In the first one, Lindelof got dragged to the middle line and left a huge gap at the back. Martinez was left with a huge space to defend and a one vs. one encounter against Bailly.

The Argentine was unable to get ahead of Bailly or put a tackle in before the Jamaican dispatched the ball. For the second, it was Martinez’s short pass that led to the foul from which the free-kick was scored.

Jacob Ramsey’s goal was even worse from a defensive point of view. United’s players got sucked to Ollie Watkins and failed to track Villa’s third-man runs.

Watkins produced a brilliant cut-back that found a free and unmarked Ramsey, who found the top corner with plenty of time and space to spare.

As a collective, it was simply not good enough from the Red Devils. Bailly was a constant thorn in the side of the backline and caused all sorts of trouble with his tricky feet.

Emiliano Buendia and Ramsey were allowed to run riot and run circles around the midfield trio of Van de Beek, Casemiro and Christian Eriksen.

The press was almost non-existent and when there was an attempt to execute it, the efficiency was negligible.

Hopefully, this was just a blip and the defeat against Villa will serve as a wake-up call to the team to get their house in order.

Outstanding lack of quality across the board

United’s lack of quality both on the pitch and on the bench was screaming against Aston Villa.

In the absence of Sancho and Antony, Rashford was deployed on the right where he had little to no impact. He seemed out of his depth on that flank.

Van de Beek, as in the Europa League against Sociedad, was in no man’s land – a distant passenger that let proceedings bypass him for large parts of the game.

Lindelof hardly commands the authority of Raphael Varane and today showed why an upgrade on him and Harry Maguire is a must have.

Ronaldo as is the norm lately was poor again, failing spectacularly in his preferred number nine role. On the bench, Ten Hag was only limited to Anthony Elanga, a young Facundo Pellistri and a recently returned from injury Martial as his impact substitutions.

This is hardly enough quality or firepower for a team that harbours top-four ambitions. The United squad is extremely thin and this defeat only served to highlight it to a greater extent.

It falls upon club chiefs’ shoulders to dip into the market and get the manager the signings he is desperate for.

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