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Despite a 3-2 scoreline, the Europa League defeat to Roma was purely academic as Man United progressed 8-5 on aggregate over the two legs, and a victory here would effectively end any remaining nerves that they may not qualify for Europe’s elite competition next year, via any passage.
United remain the only unbeaten team on the road this year, and in all honesty there’s very little to suggest that run will be ended by this Villa side who have let their own European hopes slip in recent months, giving this match slightly less purpose than it once might have had.
Indeed, the injury to Jack Grealish has proved as pivotal as first thought considering they were six points off the top four with two games in hand at the time of his injury, with that gap now 13 points with only the one game in hand after just three wins in 11 matches.
That’s not to say they haven’t put in some performances though, and they’re still finding ways to hit the back of the net without their captain and main creative force.
They’ve managed nine goals across their last five matches which is a reasonable return, while despite losing four of their six home matches against top half sides this season, they’ve at least managed to get a goal in five of them and while they might struggle against the obvious quality of Man United here, there’s every reason to think they can get on the scoresheet.
Man United To Win And Both Teams To Score
United will still be reeling off their triumph in the Europa League semis, and squad rotation may need to come into play here as they face three matches in a matter of five days, and with two of those being Leicester and Liverpool after this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may choose to mix it up a bit here.
Despite being second in the league and having that spot almost nailed on, the Red Devils don’t have the best record against the better sides in the league.
Indeed, up against the current crop of top half outfits, they’re just W6-D7-L2, which isn’t the kind of record you’d expect for a team in their position.
That said, Villa haven’t been playing like a top-half side in the absence of Grealish and across the last 12 matches alone, they’d be all the way down in 16th so we’re almost inclined to look beyond that record.
It’s now two games without a win for the visitors, though it certainly won’t feel like that and they’ve won five of their last six league games, including grabbing maximum points from West Ham, Spurs and Man City so the win and both teams to score looks to provide the best value for us here.