Manchester United will be aiming to make it four straight victories in all competitions when they head to Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday to face Aston Villa.
The Red Devils are currently fifth in the table on 23 points, one point behind fourth-placed Newcastle United, while a disappointing start has left Villa down in 16th, just one point outside of the relegation zone.
Unai Emery was officially presented as Villa’s new head coach on Friday, with the Spaniard returning to the Premier League following his short stay at Arsenal between May 2018 and November 2019.
The 51-year-old found it difficult to make his mark at the Emirates Stadium, but he has since enjoyed a successful period at Villarreal and speaking during his unveiling, Emery said that he was determined to end Villa’s trophy drought and lead them back into European football.
The experienced head coach will be aware of the size of the job that he has taken on, though, with Villa struggling this season, winning three, drawing three and losing seven of their 13 Premier League matches to sit down in 16th position in the table.
Villa began life after Steven Gerrard with a 4-0 victory over Brentford on October 23, but they then lost 4-0 at Newcastle last weekend, and it would be fair to say that consistency has been a real issue.
“My dream is to win a trophy with Aston Villa. It’s my personal challenge at the beginning. My second objective could be to play with Aston Villa in Europe. Now we have to start thinking only about the next match because we are not in a good position in the table,” said Emery on Friday.
Villa, who will again face Man United in the EFL Cup next Thursday, have incredibly not beaten the Red Devils at Villa Park since October 1999, while their last home league success over the 20-time English champions came back in August 1995.
Indeed, Man United’s two most recent Premier League defeats to Villa have both been at Old Trafford, including a 1-0 loss last season, with Kortney Hause winning it in the 88th minute of the contest.
A lot has changed at the club since then, though, and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said towards the end of October that Man United “are coming back” following a difficult few years.
The Red Devils lost their opening two matches of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford, but they have won seven times, drawn twice and lost just once in the league since then, with the team showing huge improvement under the leadership of new head coach Erik ten Hag.
A record of 23 points from 12 matches has left them fifth in the table, just one point behind fourth-placed Newcastle and only three behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, with a game in hand on both of the sides above them.
Ten Hag’s side recorded a 1-0 win over West Ham United in the league last weekend, with Marcus Rashford netting his 100th goal for the club, while they were also victorious in the Europa League on Thursday, beating Real Sociedad 1-0 courtesy of Alejandro Garnacho’s first senior goal.
Man United have finished second in their Europa League section, though, and will therefore have to take part in a two-legged playoff in February to determine whether they will be in the last-16 stage of the competition.
Aston Villa Premier League form:
Manchester United Premier League form:
Manchester United form (all competitions):
We say: Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United
Man United will be wary of the threat that Villa could provide under their new head coach, who will have a plan to stop the 20-time English champions on Sunday. We are expecting this to be a very difficult match for the Red Devils, but they are in strong form, and we are backing a 2-1 victory for the visitors here.