Home ยป Aston Villa vs Manchester United tactical preview: Battles that will decide the game

Aston Villa vs Manchester United tactical preview: Battles that will decide the game

by Vatsal Gupta

It is a measure of how far Unai Emery has brought this Aston Villa team that when they host Manchester United tomorrow, many could be forgiven for considering the Villans as the favourites.

Villa are fifth in the standings but will be extremely driven to inflict a defeat on United as that will accomplish two things- get them back up to fourth and add a breathing gap between them and United.

However, Erik ten Hag’s men look like they are finding their form as injured players return. Therefore, this promises to be an extremely interesting clash.

These battles will decide which way this game, crucial for Champions League qualification, swings-

Leon Bailey vs Luke Shaw/Diogo Dalot

When Leon Bailey went to Aston Villa, eyebrows were raised due to what was believed to be a huge coup for the Midlands side. Bailey was bossing the Bundesliga then and is now recreating the form with Villa.

Seven goals and six assists in 21 appearances tell their own story but even overall, the Jamaican is playing the best football of his career.

He’s put up against both United fullbacks because, under Emery, he pops up on both wings to do damage wherever he can find the opposition’s soft spot. He has earned as much creative license as possible in Emery’s extremely meticulous system.

Bailey is equally comfortable on the left or the right and often makes defenders dizzy with his movement and dribbling. Shaw and Dalot will need to be completely switched on because a free Bailey is a guarantee of goals in his current form.

Douglas Luiz vs Bruno Fernandes

A player who loves to wind up his opposition counterpart versus a player who gets easily frustrated and starts misplacing passes. What could go wrong?

Douglas Luiz is the ideal midfielder Manchester United need. He is competitive, smart in tackle, precise with passing, and has the lung-busting forward run in him to score goals. With six goals and four assists from midfield, while guarding his back four like his life depends upon it, he is arguably Emery’s most important player.

Fernandes, on the other hand, is United’s most important player but he just hasn’t looked up to it when facing the wind-up trio of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn.

The duo presses and harries relentlessly and closes gaps between the lines with intelligent and synergised movement. A compact game is where Fernandes’ high-risk-high-reward passing is blunted and the “high-reward” part of it goes missing.

Add to it Villa Park’s rabid atmosphere, and one starts getting a sense of deja vu. Of what? That brings it nicely to the third point.

Villa Park vs United’s mentality

The last time United went to Villa Park, they were the unfortunate victims of the new manager bounce. It was Unai Emery’s first league game at home and buoyed by the sense of occasion, United were blown away 3-1.

Before a shock loss to Newcastle at the end of January, Villa hadn’t lost at home for 17 games, a run that included back-to-back victories over Arsenal and Manchester City.

Villa Park is a bonafide fortress and the atmosphere there, especially after the defeat to Chelsea in the cup, will be rabid.

United marshalled their game against West Ham securely in a departure from most games this season where they panic. At Villa Park, even the slightest hint of panic will see Villa take the game away from them in the blink of an eye.

The Villa supporters will be baying for blood, and any smell of it will be pounced upon. They somehow got through and won vs Wolves but a similar collapse at Villa Park will end very badly. This is the real test of their mentality.

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