Manchester United will bid for a second victory over Aston Villa in the space of five days when the teams meet for a Premier League clash this weekend. Can the Red Devils pull it off for our soccer picks?
Aston Villa FC vs. Manchester United FC
Saturday, January 15, 2022 – 12:30 PM EST at Villa Park
Man Utd battled to a 1-0 win against Aston Villa when the teams played out an FA Cup third-round game at Old Trafford on Monday. An early header from Scott McTominay put United 1-0 up, and the Red Devils withstood an onslaught from Aston Villa during the remainder of the match.
Steven Gerrard’s men hit the crossbar, had two goals disallowed, and saw another shot cleared off the line by a scrambling McTominay, but they could not find a breakthrough.
The teams will now have to dust themselves off and prepare for the rare situation of facing one another again in the same week.
Gerrard’s Honeymoon Period is Over
Gerrard led Aston Villa to four wins in his first six games in charge after replacing Dean Smith as manager in November. The only two defeats the former Rangers’ boss suffered in that time came at the hands of Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom are elite teams.
However, Aston Villa has now lost 3-1 to Chelsea, 2-1 to Brentford, and 1-0 to Man Utd in its last three games. There is no shame in losing to Chelsea or Man Utd, but the Brentford defeat was a surprise, and Villa is now back down to 14th in the table.
Gerrard needs a win to reignite his team’s season, and he can take a great deal of encouragement from Villa’s performance against Man Utd on Monday. However, it needs to be more clinical in attack.
Rangnick Earns a Brief Reprieve
Interim Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick earned a little breathing room by leading his team to that 1-0 win against Aston Villa. It followed a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League, which left the Red Devils 7th in the table.
The fans are still frustrated by a recent draw with relegation-threatened Newcastle, and Man Utd has not looked convincing in any of its games since Rangnick took the reins. It is perhaps a little more solid in defense, but the players have struggled to adapt to his 4-2-2-2 formation.
Fans were delighted to see him ditch the formation against Villa on Monday, as the team reverted to its standard 4-2-3-1 approach, and they will hope it continues. The Red Devils need to return to winning ways quickly as they bid to revitalize their push for a top-four spot, so Rangnick will have to find a way to motivate the beleaguered squad this weekend.
Key midfielder John McGinn is suspended for Aston Villa, while Bertrand Traoré is at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and Leon Bailey is suspended.
Man Utd will be without suspended duo McTominay and Luke Shaw. Paul Pogba is out injured, while Eric Bailly is at the AFCON, but Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf, Jadon Sancho, and Cristiano Ronaldo could all return for the Red Devils.
England forward Marcus Rashford put in a very poor performance against Aston Villa on Monday, and Rangnick may decide to ax him and bring in Sancho, while Ronaldo could start in attack instead of Cavani.
Soccer Pick: Man Utd Draw No Bet (-148) at Unibet
Soccer Pick: Man Utd to Win (+135) at FanDuel
Soccer Pick: Cristiano Ronaldo to Score (+130) at BetMGM