Just four days after their humbling at Villa Park, Erik ten Hag and his wounded Manchester United side will be out for revenge when they welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford for their Carabao Cup third-round tie on Thursday night.
United missed their creative force in Bruno Fernandes, who was serving a suspension when they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Villans last weekend, abruptly ending their nine-game unbeaten streak.
Ten Hag sprung a surprising line-up as outcast Donny van de Beek was handed a rare start in Fernandes’ number ten role. Teenage sensation Alejandro Garnacho also made the starting XI.
However, Ten Hag’s experiment failed spectacularly as the hosts raced to a two-goal lead courtesy of Leon Bailey and Lucas Digne inside the first 11 minutes of the game.
Jacob Ramsey’s own goal on the stroke of halftime looked to have given United a lifeline, but the young Englishman made up for his error by restoring his side’s two-goal lead just four minutes after the restart.
Having served his suspension, Fernandes will be available when Villa storm the Theatre of Dreams looking for a quick double over the Red Devils.
Unai Emery has shown a knack for beating United over the years, recording wins over the Devils during his time at Arsenal and Villarreal, and he could not have asked for a better way to kickstart his Villa career.
While the debut is out of the way, Emery will be licking his lips at the chance to add insult to injury on United by knocking them out of the Carabao Cup on Thursday.
United have lost each of their last three Carabao Cup games at Old Trafford, and there is no reason for the Villa faithful to believe that lightning cannot strike twice after Sunday’s remarkable performance.
United and Villa have been familiar foes in the competition over the years, meeting four times.
The Lions have won three of their four clashes with the Red Devils, including both of their third-round meetings.
All the stats point to United having a hard time against a team they have already lost to, but Ten Hag will be desperate to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time since the start of the season against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford.
With hostilities renewed and a bone to pick, United cannot afford another lacklustre performance like that of Sunday night if they want to progress past the third round of this competition.
Less than 24 hours after their humbling defeat to Villa, the 20-time English champions learned they will face Barcelona in the knockout round playoffs of the Europa League. But they cannot afford to underestimate Villa, especially with revenge on the menu on Thursday.
United have won the EFL Cup five times and have reached the semi-finals twice, but they have suffered third-round elimination twice, including a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham United last season.
They have lost their last two Carabao Cup matches but have not lost three in a row since a run of five between 1979 and 1981.
Returning to home territory should bring calm to the Red Devils, who have won their last three home games in all competitions. They have also kept an impressive five straight clean sheets at home.
Emery kicked off his Villa Park reign with a massive win, and the Spaniard knows a thing or two about progressing in knockout competitions.
The four-time Europa League winner with Sevilla and Villarreal made it as far as the Champions League semi-finals with the Yellow Submarines.
The former Sevilla and Arsenal boss has highlighted his ambitions to win silverware with Villa, so while he is looking to go further in this competition, no shred of complacency is expected from his team at Old Trafford.
The west Midlands outfit reached the 2020 final before losing to Manchester City but were knocked out in the third round by Chelsea last season.
However, they have already seen off Bolton Wanderers 4-1 to progress to the third round, and next on Emery’s to-do list will be ending Villa’s five-game winless run away from home. They have also failed to score in three of their last four away matches.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa Predicted Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Martin Dubravka; Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia; Fred, Scott McTominay; Anthony Elanga, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Anthony Martial.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Calum Chambers, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne; Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey; Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendia.
How to Watch?
Manchester United vs Aston Villa is available to watch online via Manchester United live streams.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa Prediction
While Villa will be brimming with confidence from Sunday’s result, United’s stellar defensive streak at home sets the tone for a highly competitive affair.
So we expect both sides to settle for a draw and drag the game to penalties where it is anyone’s to win.
Manchester United 1-1 Aston Villa
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