Aston Villa’s pre-season tour in Australia draws to a close this weekend as they take on fierce Premier League rivals Manchester United at Optus Stadium, Perth.
Steven Gerrard’s side will encounter Erik ten Hag’s high-flyers on Saturday at 11 am BST before heading back to Europe to round off their pre-season.
Up-and-coming forward Cameron Archer came off the bench to fire Villa to a narrow 1-0 win over A-League outfit Brisbane Roar last time out, extending his side’s perfect summer campaign.
The Lions thrashed English lower-league side Walsall 4-0 in their opening pre-season friendly before squeezing past Leeds United 1-0 in their maiden Australian fixture, courtesy of Danny Ings’ second-half penalty.
Villa’s results this summer will fill Gerrard with confidence following an underwhelming spell of form down the final stretch of last season.
Philippe Coutinho and co went winless in their final four Premier League fixtures at the tail-end of the 2021/22 campaign (D2, L2), which resulted in an abysmal bottom-half finish.
However, Villa’s aggressive recruitment spree in the past few weeks, coupled with their 100% win ratio during their off-season preparations, shows a clear statement of intent.
In addition to turning Coutinho’s move from Barcelona permanent, the West Midlands heavyweights have completed the signings of Diego Carlos, Ludwig Augustinsson and Boubacar Kamara.
All three summer acquisitions could feature against Man Utd.
How to watch the match?
Villa vs United, alongside other high-profile pre-season friendlies, is available to watch live online via football streaming sites.
Villa went unbeaten in both Premier League meetings with Man Utd last season.
After racking up an unexpected 1-0 triumph at Old Trafford in the first half of the 2021/22 campaign, Gerrard’s side hauled back a 2-0 deficit to hold the Red Devils to a 2-2 draw at Villa Park in the return fixture.
Moreover, the Lions recorded a narrow 1-0 victory in their most recent pre-season friendly against United in 2020, showing they know how to handle one of the best English sides.
But scoring could prove a genuine issue for Villa, based on their recent attacking exploits against the Old Trafford powerhouse.
Before the abovementioned 2-2 stalemate at home, they had netted one goal or fewer in six consecutive meetings with United, including friendlies.
The Red Devils have flourished during the early managerial tenure of ten Hag, winning all three pre-season fixtures by an aggregate score of 11-2.
Resurgent forward Anthony Martial has scored in all three exhibition matches this summer as Man Utd thrashed Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, each by multi-goal margins.
Despite lacking wantaway talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, they have netted 3+ goals in all three warm-up outings this summer, suggesting the team chemistry is growing.
United’s purple patch under the Dutch tactician means they will take the field in high spirits, looking to build further momentum following an embarrassing 2021/22 season.
What’s next for Villa?
Saturday’s showdown will mark Villa’s final pre-season friendly outside Europe as Gerrard’s men are expected to return home next week ahead of their exhibition game against Rennes.
The Lions will meet the Ligue 1 side on July 30 to drop the curtain on their warm-up campaign before kickstarting the 2022/23 Premier League season away to newly-promoted Bournemouth.
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