LIVE: Aston Villa v Manchester United | EPL | July 9th, 2020
Time: 15:15 ET Canada-USA | 20:15 Cairo Local Time
Still with a top-four finish at the top of their agenda, Manchester United will make the trip to what is a downbeat Villa Park on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, despite putting in what was a spirited display away at Anfield over the weekend, Aston Villa could only slump to a 2-0 defeat against the newly-crowned champions and are in the midst of what is a real crisis. Sat four points adrift of safety with just five Premier League appearances remaining, last summer’s top-flight returners have remarkably managed to pick up just a pair of points out of a possible 27 either side of the enforced break.
Despite breaking the bank last summer, Dean Smith’s side have now failed to win any of their last 10 matches across all formats, a run that stems back to the end of January. While the former Brentford boss might be growing more concerned by the fact that his side have managed to bag just a single goal from open play in any of their last seven Premier League outings, Thursday’s hosts have continued to gain a reputation for their rather glaring issues defensively. Landing just a single clean sheet since Boxing Day, Villa have conceded 62 top-flight strikes this season, the worst record in the division.
Once again ruled out in midweek, Villa will be without full-back Matt Targett.
Despite picking up minor knocks at Anfield over the weekend, the duo of Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings are fit to start.
As for the visitors, while the mood around Villa Park might remain at a continued low, Manchester United are enjoying what has quickly become an outstanding unbeaten run. Coming from behind over the weekend to pick up what eventually turned out to be a 5-2 romp against another relegation scrapper in Bournemouth, only German giants Bayern Munich can boost a longer unbeaten run across Europe’s top-five leagues.
With their sights now firmly set on securing a Champions League return this summer, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in the midst of a glittering 16-match unbeaten run that stems all the way back to January 22nd. More impressive, winning each of their last four appearances on the bounce and also booking an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea for later in the month, the Red Devils have really started to find a clinical edge in front of goal. With the likes of starlet Mason Greenwood and January arrival Bruno Fernandes continuing on what has been a remarkable goalscoring run, Thursday’s hosts have now bagged 11 goals in just their last three top-flight victories.
Despite limping off with a back injury against Bournemouth on Saturday, defender Victor Lindelof is expected to partner Harry Maguire at the heart of United’s defence.
Key Factors to Consider
Playing out a 2-2 draw earlier in the season, seven of the last 10 meetings between Villa and United have seen over 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
Aston Villa have managed to collect just a pair of points over their last nine Premier League appearances.
Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 16 matches across all competitions, only German champions Bayern Munich can boast a longer unbeaten record across Europe’s top-five leagues.
Villa have conceded 62 Premier League goals this season, the worst defensive record in the division.
Mason Greenwood has scored three goals in back-to-back Premier League appearances.
On paper, Manchester United will make the trip to Villa Park confident of extending on what has been an outstanding purple patch. Putting five past Bournemouth over the weekend and with the likes of Bruno Fernades and Mason Greenwood continuing to steal the show at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be looking to make a statement in midweek. With it appearing that Villa are freefalling towards an immediate Championship return after collecting just a pair of points over their last nine Premier League outings, we’re backing a high-flying United to enjoying another fruitful night in the final third on Thursday.