Written By: Bhavdeep Singh
The almost relegated Aston Villa walked into Old Trafford on Saturday desperate for a win which would help to keep their chances of staying in the premier League alive. A win, however, was important for Louis Van Gaal’s side as well to keep up the pressure on the top 4 and thanks to another goal by none other than Marcus Rashford, they were able to do so.
The United lineup was given a little shuffle after the midweek clash against West Ham and before another one against Crystal Palace. The new faces were those of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin, Antonio Valencia and Memphis Depay. Plenty of fans were surprised to see Anthony Martial on the bench but the dutch manager insisted that he be given some rest for the upcoming matches, he also seemed to believe that defender Daley Blind should be given some rest as well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the bench against Crystal Palace in midweek.
Aston Villa kicked the ball off but not for long in the half, they were constantly outclassed by Manchester United and quite rightly so, the back 4 were making terrible mistakes at times and the midfield seemed dead, 10 minutes into the game and United seemed to be all over the place, one can understand why Villa are going through this phase.
Manchester United, as mentioned before, were constantly attacking, moving up the flanks and passing the ball around quite nicely, notable figures were Juan Mata and Memphis Depay who set up the forwards well, it was only a matter of time before skipper Wayne Rooney won a freekick right outside the box, a nice delivery by Memphis met Rojo’s head which steered it over the bar. Side note: A lot of fans seem to be agitated about Rojo constantly starting but being unable to pass the ball.
The chances kept pouring in for United, but they couldn’t seem to find the back of the net, the situation continued till 30 minutes before Aston Villa finally reached United’s box but shot wide, and in a matter of minutes, Wayne Rooney shot a stupendous ball towards Antonio Valencia on the wing, and his accurate cross was met by Marcus Rashford who scored the only goal in the match. The boy wonder struck again.
Villa came back to United’s box, but again, couldn’t score and that was half time.
The second half started well for United, with Mata brilliantly setting up Rashford, who shot just wide of the post. Rashford became the key figure along with Mata and Memphis and constantly tried for another. In one such instance, he seemed to have been fouled in the box, but did not go down and kept the ball alive, in such a situation, many players would’ve fell down and got their team a penalty, the fact that he didn’t do that shows his honesty which, in my opinion, should be applauded.
Coming back to the game, Aston Villa got Gestede on for Richardson in the 82nd minute and his impact was clear as Villa got the closest they could ever get to scoring but were denied by the watchful Daley Blind. A corner came about 2 minutes later and Gestede hit the post, correction, that’s the closest they ever got to scoring. Another corner saw a shot straight at De Gea, who, in his form didn’t let it pass through.
The final chance of the match was set up by Anthony Martial for Memphis Depay, who shot straight at Brad Guzan, the ball crossed but hit the post, credit to Guzan though for keeping the team in by making some great saves in the match.
The final whistle blew and Aston Villa, the club that had never been relegated, had been brought down to it’s knees. Tears were visible in the eyes of the players and the manager but the fans, quite justifiably, had mixed reactions, though a little more hatred than sympathy was evident.
For Aston Villa, nothing to be said, they don’t have anything to play for now, and it’s a sad affair for them, but they deserved it, play well and you shall be rewarded, play like that and you shall be relegated, I wish them luck in the Championship and hope that we see them here again.
About Manchester United, well there are positives and then there are negatives, the good part was that the shuffled players performed well and the squad rotation was a good move, if Van Gaal stays at the club in the next season, he must do that more often. They are, as they did in the last match, moving forward while passing, reducing side and back passes and that’s good. To be very frank, Marcus Rashford is in the limelight right now, and they shouldn’t let it get away from him till the end of the season at least.
Now, for the bad part of it, there are two things, the first being the set pieces, while free kicks seemed good this time around (thanks to Memphis), they were not received well, and corners have been very poor this season, the defence crumbles and a lot of free headers are given. When taking them, they opt for short corners most of the time, the one to Mata in the box was a good idea but they must come up with something new for the next game and must improve upon them in general as well
The second problem is with the final moments of the game, we have seen it before, in the previous game, in the one against Chelsea and a ton of others, they must hold on to their ground well and execute the strategy of possession play in the last 10 minutes, that’s when the teams will push the hardest and that’s where they always lag behind.
- Marcus Rashford
- Wayne Rooney
- Memphis Depay
Honourable mentions go out to Juan Mata and Daley Blind
- Rudy Gestede
- Brad Guzan
- Jordan Ayew
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace – 20th/21st April (subject to time zone)
Aston Villa vs Southampton – 23rd April
After winning the match against Chelsea, Manchester City have come up to third position, and Arsenal have dropped to (no surprise) 4th, can Arsenal defeat Crystal Palace and come back? Also, this has opened a huge gap between the 4th and 5th position, can Manchester United still make it to the top 4? The season gets interesting