Aston Villa Striving for Consistency as Manchester United Comes to Town

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Aston Villa’s performance this season has defied expectations, but manager Unai Emery is determined to maintain consistency as they aim to secure a top-four position. The team has experienced a dip in form recently, winning only one of their last five matches across all competitions (D2, L2). After being eliminated from the FA Cup by Chelsea, Emery emphasizes that their primary objective is to secure a European qualification spot in the Premier League.

Emery is eager to restore Villa Park’s reputation as a fortress after witnessing back-to-back home defeats, which is more than they had suffered in their previous 22 matches at home. The upcoming match against Manchester United brings back fond memories for Emery, as they secured a 3-1 victory in his first game in charge at Villa. However, that remains their only win against United at home since October 1999 (D6, L17), and they have lost the last three meetings between the sides, albeit all at Old Trafford. One of those meetings, on Boxing Day, saw Manchester United stage an incredible comeback from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.

This match seems to have marked a turning point in Manchester United’s season, as they have scored 13 of their 31 Premier League goals in their last five matches (W3, D1, L1). They have also progressed in the FA Cup twice during this period. A standout performance was their resounding 3-0 home victory over West Ham last Sunday. Erik ten Hag’s side appears to be on the rise after a turbulent first half of the season, and a win here would bring them within five points of Aston Villa.

Manchester United’s struggles on the road have been well-documented, but they are currently on a three-match winning streak away from home in all competitions. If they secure a fourth consecutive away win, it will be their best run since October 2020.

Players to watch in this match include Villa striker Ollie Watkins, who is eager to regain his scoring form at home. Four of his last five goals have come in away matches. Another player to keep an eye on is Alejandro Garnacho, who has a knack for scoring against teams in claret and blue. He recently netted a brace against West Ham and also scored against Villa in the reverse fixture in December.

Hot stat: Interestingly, 12 of the 14 away goals that Manchester United has conceded in the Premier League this season have come in the second half of matches.

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