I was at Villa Park yesterday to see under pressure Manchester United take on Aston Villa. The atmosphere pre-game was low key from the home supporters, which was surprising given United were on a two game losing streak in the league and were under huge pressure to get three points. The Manchester United fans, however, were fantastic. They never stopped singing all game, the best chant being “We are staying up!” after Danny Welbeck scored his second goal.
United comfortably won the match 3-0, and it was their best performance since their 5-0 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen. Villa, on the other hand, were desperately poor and devoid of ideas throughout the game.
Villa were missing key players such as Ron Vlaar and Fabien Delph, but manager Paul Lambert’s team selection was very strange. This game was a perfect chance to attack United and put the onus on them to break Villa down. Right back Leandro Bacuna was left on the bench as well as Andreas Weimann, but Marc Albrighton earned a start. You have to question this decision as it was his first start since New Year’s Day. Striker Christian Benteke has not scored in 9 games and it was clear to see why this is the case on Sunday. Long ball after long ball was punted towards the big Belgian but he lost nearly every challenge with Phil Jones and did not look interested, eventually being subbed for Libor Kozak, who has been much more effective this season.
Aston Villa’s away from is decent (three draws and a victory in the last four away matches), with unlikely wins at Arsenal and Southampton and a creditable comeback against West Brom to draw 2-2 but the home form is letting them down and could consequently drag them towards the relegation zone. It’s pleasing to see young English footballers having the chance to play in the Premier League, with Ashley Westwood being the most impressive, but I think Villa will be very fortunate to avoid the drop if they continue to play as they did in the 3-0 defeat in the hands of Manchester United. The reason being is that they leak goals defensively and don’t seem to have a Plan B.
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