Last Sunday Aston Villa travelled to Manchester United in the fresh optimism that they may be able to keep United’s hands of the Premier League trophy, much to the delight of the Manchester neighbours City. Just 23 hours before Sundays kick off Manchester City showed a fresh burst of hope after beating Norwich City 6-1, although the score-line flattered Man City somewhat.
Sunday’s game was always going to be a hard task for Aston Villa who have found it difficult to get 3 points from Manchester United. The full-time score was Manchester United 4-0 Aston Villa but it was the controversial way Manchester United took the lead in the 9th minute.
Former Aston Villa winger Ashley Young played a huge role in what he deemed a deserved penalty for United as he was fouled by former team-mate Ciaran Clark. TV replays showed and fellow professionals agreed that Ashley Young wrongfully claims he was fouled.
Newcastle’s Ryan Taylor tweeted the following:
Aston Villa were once again relying on the youngsters to fill in for absentees from the first-team squad naming 7 academy graduates in the 16-man squad. Aston Villa squad average on Sunday was just 24 – this was only down to goalkeeper Shay Given bumping the numbers up.
Manchester United had a wealth of experience in their squad with the likes of Rio Ferdinand,Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney and not be harsh to Aston Villa but this showed with Paul Scholes playing the dynamo in the midfielder for United. Aston Villa were limited to just 34.8% of possession compared to Manchester United greater percentage of just 65.2%.
Manchester United almost doubled the amount of passes they attempted compared to Aston Villa. Manchester United attempted 547 passes compared with Aston Villa’s 289. Aston Villa managed to make 213 passes accurate and found their intended recipients 74% of the time. Manchester United managed to achieve a pass success rate of 87% finding intended targets on 474 occasions.
Aston Villa intercepted the ball 20 times as Manchester United failed to retain the ball as they were overrunning their runs too much.
In recent weeks Aston Villa have seen themselves have a better cross conversion rate than their opponents and the Manchester United match was also an improvement. Aston Villa managed a 62% cross accuracy coming from 13 attempted crosses. Manchester United on the other hand had more attempted crosses with 29 against 12 accurate crosses giving them a success rate of just 41%.
Paul Scholes has been at Manchester United for years now and his surprise return for the club were he earn’t himself so many trophies and recognition from fellow professionals in the game and on Sunday Paul Scholes was able to prove this further with an impressive 94% pass accuracy percentage – 67 passes with 64 successful.
Aston Villa have heavily relied upon the youth academy this season with long-term injuries being picked up very regularly. One player that deserves special praise standing-in for Richard Dunne has been Nathan Baker.
Nathan Baker went on-loan to Championship side Millwall but returned around Christmas and New Year he has been patiently playing in the reserves. His development has impressed manager Alex McLeish so much so that he has found himself partnering James Collins in the centre of the Villa defence.
Nathan Baker has grown in height and presence since his early reserve days but has been heading the ball with the taller players in the Premier League. Against Manchester United Nathan Baker managed to successfully head away 4 clearances compared to an attempted 6. Nathan Baker also successfully cleared 7 out of 10 attempted threats to the Aston Villa goal.
Shay Given was called into action on many occasions against Manchester United to pull of a couple of acrobatic saves to keep the score-line down to 4.
Aston Villa now face their former manager on Saturday when Martin O’Neill returns with Sunderland. Saturday’s game will be the first for MON since leaving Aston Villa 5 days before the start of the 2010/2011 season.
Each game for Aston Villa is vital to help them secure Premier League safety after Wigan beat Arsenal on Monday night at The Emirates. Wigan have overtaken the pack of relegation candidates in recent weeks and are 1 point behind Aston Villa.