Aston Villa have failed to beat Manchester United at Villa Park since 1995 and although some fans were optimistic about this one, the result was no different. Bertrand Traore’s first half wonder goal offered a glimmer of hope, however, as United have repeatedly done this season, they recovered in the second half.
It was a birthday to forget for Douglas Luiz, after a bright first half, he made the error of diving in on Paul Pogba who had his back to goal and was posing little to no threat to the Villa defense. It was Luiz on Pogba that led to the penalty in the reverse fixture this season; dubious penalties against Villa in this fixture are becoming a recurring theme.
In fact, as @villareport outlined on Twitter; United have not won against Villa without a penalty since 2016. Whereas Villa haven’t been given a penalty in this fixture since the 2010 League Cup Final over 11 years ago.
Villa finished with an expected goals (xG) value of 0.70 xG, compared to United’s 1.86 xG. At half-time, Villa were at 0.34 xG and United were at 0.39 xG. This outlined the drop off in Villa’s performance after conceding the first goal. Heads dropped and United got a hold of the game.
There were little stand out performances and some stood out for the wrong reasons. After an impressive display against Everton, fans were hoping Ross Barkley could carry over this form into the remaining games of the season. Sadly, this was not the case yesterday.
In 76 minutes of play, he accumulated a pass accuracy of 65.8% (lowest on the team), 1 progressive pass, 13 pressures (3 successful), 0 tackles, 0 blocks, and carried the ball 35 yards of progressive distance. He was ineffective in this game and went missing throughout; not a great showing from someone who’s future is uncertain.
In comparison, Jacob Ramsey was much more effective and offered a lot more. In 26 minutes of play he recorded a pass accuracy of 92.9%, 2 progressive passes, 12 pressures (3 successful), 3 tackles, 2 blocks, and 22 yards of progressive distance. His contributions exceed Barkley’s in a fraction of the time.
Switching the line-up round is inevitable after Ollie Watkins received a second yellow card for simulation and got sent off. He has been ever present in this squad, having played 3058 minutes of football this season. This does, however, offer an opportunity for fans to see either Keinan Davis or Wesley come into the starting line-up, which many have been pleading for.
Gareth Southgate was present to watch several potential players that may feature in his 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championships. One player he must consider is the reliable, Ezri Konsa. Yesterday outlined everything Villa fans have been watching all season - dominant, calm, and reads the game perfectly.
He accumulated 8 clearances, 3 blocked shots, 1 interception, 1 tackle, 100% ground duels won, 92.9% pass accuracy, and lost possession the second least out of anyone in the lineup. The term ‘Rolls-Royce center-back’ has never been more suited to describing a player for Villa in recent years.
Villa have games coming thick and fast towards the end of the season, with games on Thursday and Sunday. Hopefully Smith finds some solid minutes for players such as Davis and Wesley, as well as potentially offering debuts to the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka and Louis Barry.