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Unai Emery manages Aston Villa for the first time against Manchester United
Manchester United to win 2-1
Tournament: Premier League 2022-2023 | Venue: Birmingham, Villa ParkBet Now
Aston Villa start a new chapter this weekend when Unai Emery takes over at the football club. The Spaniard has an excellent record across his career to date, managing across Spain, France and previously at Arsenal.
Although his time at the Gunners did not go as planned, his reputation across Europe is high due to the number of trophies he has won, not least the four Europa League titles from Sevilla and Villarreal.
He has a big task to take on here, with Villa near the bottom of the table. While it is accepted that Villa are a good deal better than their current position, he’ll need to work hard with the players to improve them.
Manchester United continued their good run of form by beating West Ham at the weekend, followed by another 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad in their midweek Europa League game.
Erik ten Hag’s revolution continues at the club, and United are now just a point off the top four with a game in hand.
A win here would do both sides the power of good.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Unai Emery will immediately improve their team
Have had a full week to prepare
Reasons to be fearful:
Just one win from their last 21 meetings with United
Tough run of fixtures before the World Cup
Unai Emery will be in no doubt about the size of the challenge presented to him as the new manager of Aston Villa.
In his first two weeks before the World Cup break, he faces Manchester United twice and the Brighton. It is conceivable that Villa’s poor run could continue.
It is also possible that Villa could use these games as a springboard for better things later on in this season. Games against Manchester United haven’t come easily for Villa, but at home they have a chance.
They will have had a full week to prepare for this game and should be the fresher of the two teams, given that United played in midweek.
It’ll be interesting to see how Emery sets his team up – will Mings return as captain? Will Coutinho, Buendia, Bailey and Watkins all play?
Star Man – Philippe Coutinho
If ever a big player needed a big performance to get him going, it’s Coutinho right now. He was electric in his last game against United, helping his side to earn a 2-2 draw.
Reasons to be cheerful
Have kept six clean sheets from their last seven games in all competitions
Great record against Villa
Reasons to be fearful
Played in Europe on Thursday
Only scored four goals in their last four league games
The Erik ten Hag machine rolls on at Manchester United, with another brace of victories coming in the past week.
A tough, narrow win over West Ham last weekend took United on the brink of the top four, while a similar victory over Real Sociedad in midweek continued their good run of form.
Now, they face Aston Villa twice within the space of a few days. The main challenge for United will be to keep their players fresh, having played twice a week virtually all season.
Their main positive is at the back. The addition of Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez has worked wonders in terms of defensive solidarity and has led to multiple clean sheets of late.
They need more going forward, but their defence has given them a solid platform to build from.
Star Man – Marcus Rashford
Rashford’s incredible header won the game for United against West Ham last weekend. The striker was rested for most of their midweek game, meaning that he should be fresh here.
Can Villa break down United’s tough defence?
How big an impact can Emery have?
Possession could be fairly even
While we have seen a definitive improvement in Manchester United of late, they struggle to control games for the full 90 minutes.
Last week, for example, West Ham were able to come back into the game strongly in the second half.
It isn’t beyond Villa to put in a fantastic performance under their new manager and earn the points, although with United in their current form, you would have to say that they are slight favourites.
Manchester United to win 2-1
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