Looking to extend their winning streak across all competitions, Erik Ten Hag and his Manchester United side will travel to face Aston Villa on Sunday.
Following Steven Gerrard’s departure, Villa looked to have quickly embraced the new regime led by interim boss Aaron Danks as they ran riot against Brentford, racing to a 4-0 victory at Villa Park.
However, they were quickly brought back down to earth as the in-form Newcastle United handed them the same scoreline at St James’ Park.
After enjoying a taste of first-team coaching, Danks will have to step aside for the newly appointed Unai Emery to begin his career as Villa’s permanent manager.
The Spaniard returned to the Premier League following his short stay at Arsenal, determined to end Villa’s trophy drought and lead them back into European football – or so he said when he was unveiled on Friday.
However, having enjoyed a successful period at Villarreal, the 51-year-old’s second coming will begin at home to United, who are looking to take their winning streak to four games on the bounce in all competitions.
Emery’s experience could be pivotal in steering Villa away from the relegation struggle, especially with his appointment coming this early in the season.
But he will be aware of the size of the job he has taken on, with Villa struggling this season, having won just three of their 13 league games thus far (D3, L7).
With his side down in 16th position in the table, Emery will want to begin his reign with a win, and if he could beat United at home, a feat the Villans have not achieved since August 1995, it will be a massive statement to the rest of the crop.
However, United are in no mood to taste defeat just yet. Since their humbling in the Manchester derby, they are unbeaten in their last nine games, including their 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, which unfortunately was not enough to avoid a two-legged play-off in February.
Ten Hag admitted his side have no intention of giving up on their Europa League title chase despite spurning their chance for automatic qualification.
However, after Marcus Rashford’s 100th goal for the club ensured a 1-0 win over West Ham United last weekend, United will now look to extend their winning run to four games against Villa.
A record of 23 points from 12 matches has left United fifth in the table, just one point behind fourth-placed Newcastle United and only three behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, with a game in hand on both sides.
Having won against Brentford at home last time out, Villa are looking for consecutive home league victories for the first time since January 2021.
Villa’s last two victories over United have come at Old Trafford, including a 1-0 loss last season, with Kortney Hause winning it in the 88th minute of the contest.
They also won four points against the Red Devils last season (W1, D1), but success over United on home territory has been hard to come by.
Villa’s record against teams starting the day in the top six leaves little to be desired as they have lost 13 of their last 14 league games against such sides (D1), conceding 33 goals in the process. However, their last such win came against third-placed United last season.
Unai Emery faces an uphill task as he prepares for his Villa debut looking to be the first manager, including caretakers, to win their first game in charge against United since Alan Curbishley at West Ham United in December 2006.
United’s away record against Villa could all but guarantee a positive result over the Villans as they are unbeaten in their last 23 league games at Villa Park (W15, D8), characterising the longest unbeaten away run one team has had against another in English league history.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be itching to return to the score sheet against his favourite opponent as he has scored more league goals against Villa (8) than any other side in the league.
The Portuguese has also been involved in 11 goals in his last eight starts against the Villans in the competition, recording eight goals and three assists.
Aston Villa vs Manchester United Predicted Line-ups
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne; Leander Dendoncker, Douglas Luiz; Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia, Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings.
Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw; Fred, Casemiro, Christian Eriksen; Antony, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford.
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Aston Villa vs Manchester United Prediction
Pumped for a fresh start, the Villans will be roaring out of the blocks looking to kickstart Emery’s reign with a positive result. But we expect their dreadful home form against United to continue, with the Red Devils extending their unbeaten run.
Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United
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