Manchester United and Aston Villa go head-to-head in Monday’s tasty-looking FA Cup third-round showdown at Old Trafford.
It was not the best of starts to the new calendar year for the Red Devils by any stretch of the imagination, as they suffered a dismal 1-0 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year’s Day.
By contrast, United closed 2021 out on a high, going unbeaten in eight matches across all competitions in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking (W5, D3).
However, the three-time European champions have found the goals hard to come by under new interim boss Ralf Rangnick despite boasting one of the most intimidating attacking line-ups in English football.
Although an uneventful showing against Wolves last time out marked Man United’s first scoring blank under Rangnick, Cristiano Ronaldo and co netted precisely once in four of their five competitive games beforehand.
Villa’s visit to the Theatre of Dreams for an exciting FA Cup third-round tie could be a prime opportunity for United to recalibrate their guns and set the tone for a more prolific 2022.
Coming into this fixture, Steven Gerrard’s men have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats by an aggregate score of 5-2 despite taking the lead on both occasions.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
Kortney Hause’s last-gasp header handed Villa a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the sides’ first Premier League meeting this season back in September, ending a run of three consecutive H2H defeats.
Before that victory, Villa were winless in their previous eight Premier League visits to the Theatre of Dreams beforehand (D1, L7), conceding 2+ goals seven times in that sequence.
Adding to Man United’s confidence ahead of the kick-off, they have won ten of their 12 FA Cup encounters against Villa (L2), including the last six in a row.
Manchester United Preview
Since losing 2-1 to Arsenal in 2014/15, Man United have gone unbeaten in their subsequent 11 FA Cup matches at Old Trafford, winning each of the last nine on the trot by an aggregate score of 20-2.
However, following the abovementioned league defeat to Villa, the Red Devils face the prospect of losing two competitive home games to particular opposition in a single campaign for only the fourth time in the club’s history.
Rangnick’s side will have to improve at the back to prevent that from happening after keeping just one clean sheet in 13 of their 14 competitive home fixtures this season.
The German manager will have to cope without several first-team stars, as Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay will miss out due to suspension.
It could be another rare opportunity for Phil Jones to taste competitive action, given the uncertainty surrounding the fitness of Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly.
Rangnick should have all of his hard-hitters fit and firing in attack, with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo all expected to start.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa Predicted Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-2-2): Dean Henderson; Alex Telles, Raphael Varane, Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot; Scott McTominay, Fred; Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Emiliano Martinez; Matt Target, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matty Cash; Stuart McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey; Emiliano Buendia, Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins.
- Manchester United plan to enter the transfer race for Moises Caicedo
- Impressive stats come to the fore following massive performance from Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes for Portugal
- Real Madrid join Man Utd in race to sign Argentine star Enzo Fernandez
- Facundo Pellistri shines for Uruguay in 2-0 World Cup defeat to Portugal
- FA Cup third round draw: Man Utd to host Everton at Old Trafford
- Casemiro scores wonder goal as Manchester United duo help Brazil move into last 16 at the World Cup
- Man Utd plan to recall Ethan Laird if Aaron Wan-Bissaka leaves in January
- Man Utd target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic impresses for Serbia in World Cup thriller vs Cameroon
- Man Utd should sign Vincent Aboubakar from Al-Nassr on loan in January
- Manchester United midfielder Fred opens up on taking inspiration from legendary World Cup-winning Brazil squad