Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa: 5 talking points

Marcus Rashford Aston Villa
Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring the winner against Aston Villa.

Aston Villa’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. Marcus Rashford’s 33rd minute goal was the difference between the two sides as he evaded his marker Ciaran Clark to slot home an Antonio Valencia cross following a great ball by Wayne Rooney.

We look at the 5 talking points of a game that officially sent Aston Villa crashing out of England’s top-tier for the first time in the Premier League era:

#1 Marcus Rashford pops up yet again

He derailed Arsenal’s title challenge on his league debut, scored on his Manchester Derby debut, sent West Ham out of the FA Cup and he now ensured Aston Villa’s relegation. All this in the space of 50 days. What a dream debut season it is turning out to be for 18-year old academy graduate Marcus Rashford. His pace and positioning inside the box have been two of his best attributes since joining the first team. He showed what he was made of once again as he pulled away from his marker Ciaran Clark to freely side-foot the eventual winner from a low Antonio Valencia ball from the right. The presence of mind to stop his run and put himself in a position to deal with Valencia’s cross suggests that he is a bright prospect for Manchester United.

#2 Gestede’s introduction gives United a scare

Rudy Gestede
Rudy Gestede

With relegation looming and Aston Villa failing to unsettle Manchester United from counter-attacks, Eric Black decided to throw on the aerially strong Rudy Gestede for the final 10 minutes. What followed was heart-in-mouth stuff as far as Manchester United fans were concerned, as Gestede won his first two aerial duels to create havoc in Manchester United penalty area.

While the first one was deflected for a corner, the second one thudded the post with David de Gea left stranded. The impact Gestede had since coming on made Villa fans wonder as to why he has been played so little this season. For a man who has won the second most aerial duels in this season’s Premier League (behind Troy Deeney) to have warmed the bench for lengthy periods leaves everyone confused.

#3 Aston Villa’s defence falls asleep multiple times

Joleon Lescott had another miserable outing

Villa’s defence has been appalling all season. The lack of decision making and the failure to read the runs of strikers in the box have been their Achilles Heel all season. Yesterday was just another example of some schoolboy defending which Manchester United failed to capitalise on.

A United player was always winning their corners – be it Fellaini or Smalling. The naivety of centre-backs Joleon Lescott and Ciaran Clark has led to their landslide in pretty much every game this season and today was no different. The Villa defence even failed to respond to United’s quick corners in the second half which grazed the goal line and were met by Mata – only for goalkeeper Brad Guzan to keep him out. A shocking display which sealed their fate.

#4 Brad Guzan saves Villa from further embarrassment

Brad Guzan Manchester United
Brad Guzan shouts at his defenders.

If Villa had anyone to thank for keeping the scoreline down to 1-0, it was custodian Brad Guzan. The US international made a number of important stops to keep his side in the game. His most impressive save came right at the end, when Memphis Depay found himself one-on-one with the American at the end of a swift United counter – only to see his strike tipped by Guzan onto the post.

Guzan was the only one alert to United’s clever corners which were delivered parallel to the goal-line as he saved Juan Mata’s flick-on. He was by far Aston VIlla’s Man of the Match for a solid performance in between the sticks.

#5 Can Manchester United finish in the top four?

Wayne Rooney excelled in the number 10 role.

To do that, Manchester United need to score more goals. Netting just once against a hapless Aston Villa would hardly have pleased the Old Trafford faithful – considering the fact that Villa were so close to scoring themselves late in the game.

United’s failure to break down teams who are compact in defence in a worrying sight. Most teams this season have looked happy enough to sit back and allow Manchester United to stroke the ball around in midfield.

If van Gaal can allow his forwards to be a bit more expressive up the pitch and really have a go at the opposition without worrying about giving away chances on the break, United could improve their chances. A return of 40 goals in 33 league games is not what United fans are accustomed to viewing. They would rather watch their team up the ante in the final third and finish teams off earlier than they actually do.

With Wayne Rooney’s return to the field, he can dictate United’s attacks from a number ten role and find that defence opening pass which could lead to United scoring more goals than they are right now.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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