Aston Villa 0 - 1 Manchester United

Another game gone. Another 3 points. Another 1 nil victory. But another sub-par performance by Louis Van Gaal's men.

Januzaj, the scorer celebrate with Mata who made the assist

While it's a much improved performance against the Tottenham Spurs game, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the attacking unit.

There are definitely some occasional brilliance and if Memphis Depay were as sharp as he was in PSV, United would have probably gone a few goals up against Villa. 

Anyway, before I talk more bout the game, here are some of the statistics of the game:


1) Time of Possession

With Van Gaal, ball possession was the crucial stat to look into and United again control most of the game:

Manchester United control 54% of the ball possession
2) Shots

Statistics shows United only manage 2 shots on target after 9 attempts
I think this is a worrying trend, as United could not make enough attempts to test the goalkeeper. While Guzan is a goalkeeper with a respectable record, it's a shame that Manchester United could only made 2 shots on goal even with the likes of Rooney, Memphis, Mata, Carrick, Januzaj, Schneiderlin and substitutes like Herrera and Schweinsteiger. This is of course slightly better than the attempts and shot on target made against Spurs.

Here is the summary of the match stats that you might find useful:

Match Stats Summary



Credit must be given to a team that has shown such a great solitude in the defense line after such a heavy criticism over the last 2 years, and even when they are playing with a new goalkeeper, Sergio Romero. 

Romero has grown in confidence from the first moment he played against Spurs in his first game

The defenders were good, and Smalling won almost all the headers. Smalling was also very solid at the back and he had definitely grown a lot as a leader of the back four for United.

Smalling step up for United's defense and leading the Back Four to be very solid
Shaw was beginning to show his quality and England should be glad that he step up his game against Villa. United's new signing Darmian got himself into a booking but was otherwise rather impressive throughout the game, just as his first game against Spurs. Blind perhaps was the least impressive among the 4 defenders but was still effective against Villa. The fact that Villa could only made a shot on target tell the story. 


Mata has already been a great asset for United's midfield lineup and he proved to be better each time. 

Juan Mata played a vital role in United's attack
His defence-splitting pass was perfect for the run of the Adnan Januzaj who outfoxed the sliding Micah Richards with a smart turn. With a position from the corner of the six-yard box, he managed a shot that took a slight touch from Villa's Clark before going into the back of the net, leaving Guzan with no chance.

Juan Mata made another perfect pass to Memphis Depay, leaving him one on one against Villa's goalkeeper but the former top scorer in PSV was not able to take advantage of it. His curling effort bounced just wide of the post.


There were occasional brilliance, like the one that Mata created, the runs made by Memphis and some awesome one two passes that we see between the midfielders, whether it was before Herrera and Schweinsteiger entered the pitch or after. There were some great passes between the midfielders, with Carrick and Schneiderlin still proving to be a rather slow combination but both players were calm and compose in their passes. 

United's midfield need to create more chances instead of just dominate possessions alone
World Cup winner Schweinsteiger made some great interlink passes with Shaw, Young, Herrera and Mata as well but there were not much threat at the attack. 

Memphis showed why United bought him. He was bold, fast and willing to take chances but more is expected. His game against Villa were still below par and he failed to take chances.

Memphis made a shot from a brilliant pass from Mata

The photo tells it all. What a wasted opportunity


Perhaps, the most important player in United's squad at the moment, Wayne Rooney. This was suppose to be his moment, playing in his favored role. But after two games and Rooney had yet to made those awaited goals. 

Can Wayne Rooney live up to the expectation?
While United might be blamed for not providing much of the chances to the England international, it is obvious that Rooney need to create more of that space himself. It is still too early to tell if Rooney could hit top gear this season as the season just kick off into the second games but the expectation is high. United's captain needs to step up and start scoring goals if Manchester United were to challenge for the title this season. One thing for sure, the longer this drag on, the more it seems that Rooney does not has the mobility and ability to play as a lone striker for United. 


While Louis Van Gaal were right to criticize Januzaj for losing possession too easily at times, (the boss also made the same remark about Memphis) the Belgian had shown he deserve a chance to fight for the starting line up. 

Januzaj scored the winning goal against Villa
He was quick with the ball on his feet, sharp and dare to take chances. It's important to have more of those shots and attempts than to simply hold on to meaningless possession. The presence of players like Januzaj and Memphis gave United the options to spring surprises.

Let's hope that as these players trained and played more together, we will see the fluid attacking play that is missed in the first two games so far.


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