Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa reign begin in impressive fashion with four victories across his first six games at the helm, with the exceptions narrow defeats to Man City and Liverpool.
However, his side have since lost three on the trot, and although encounters with Chelsea and Man Utd in the FA Cup were always going to be tough assignments, the defeat away to Brentford will rankle slightly.
Of those five defeats, all but the 3-1 loss to Chelsea came by a single-goal margin, so it would be a surprise if Man Utd were to dominate this fixture. That’s especially the case given Villa were arguably the better side when the two met at Old Trafford this past weekend, seeing two goals chalked off to compound their frustration.
The result will be all that matters to Ralph Rangnick as he seeks to establish some momentum. He may only have lost one of his seven games in charge to date, but his side have failed to ignite and have scored more than once on just the single occasion when hosting relegation-threatened Burnley.
Stalemates hosting Young Boys in Europe and on the road to a struggling Newcastle outfit leaves a lot to be desired, while even when facing a dismal Norwich they were deeply uninspiring, relying upon Cristiano Ronaldo to win and score a penalty.
Under 2.5 Goals
With six of those seven games featuring fewer than three goals, and four of them seeing just a solitary strike, the prospects of this being a high-scoring affair would appear low.
The visitors should however be boosted by the returns of Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho from minor injuries that kept them out at the weekend, though like Marcus Rashford if not to the same extent, the latter hasn’t been at his best this season.
Elsewhere, Harry Maguire has missed the last two games and with Eric Bailly away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Victor Lindelof will be on standby to partner Raphael Varane should the captain be unavailable again.
Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are suspended, with the latter one of the few to impress in Rangnick’s time so far. That could present opportunities for Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks set to feature at right-back with Diogo Dalot an injury doubt.
Villa have a few absentees of their own, with the most pressing concern in midfield as John McGinn is suspended and Marvelous Nakamba is injured.
Philippe Coutinho should make his debut here, but although the signing has understandably generated plenty of excitement, it remains to be seen if the Brazilian can hit the ground running following a disappointing spell at Barcelona where he struggled for minutes.
Man United To Win By 1 Goal
Although Man Utd have plenty of convincing to do, Villa’s losses to Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and the Red Devils themselves would suggest that another defeat is in store for Gerrard’s men here.
The visitors might not be firing on all cylinders, but they are picking up results and a narrow victory would appear most likely.
UNDER 2.5 GOALS
MAN UNITED TO WIN BY 1 GOAL