By Ollie Cranham-Young
- United make it two wins of out two at beginning of the season
- United made one change with Januzaj coming in for Young
- Januzaj scored the only goal of the game
Venue: Villa Park Attendance: 42,200
Manchester United continued their Premier League winning-start with victory over Aston Villa, ironically by the same 1-0 score line as their opening game.
Unlike last time though, the goal was from a United player, Adnan Januzaj broke the deadlock with a strike in the 29th minute which meant United to maintained their impressive record at Villa Park.
The match will be remembered for being moved to a Friday night because of police request, but it will undoubtedly be one of Adnan Januzaj favourite games with the club as it was his goal that gave United the three points. Van Gaal made just one change to his previous starting eleven by replacing Ashley Young with Adnan Januzaj, and the Belgian played in the hole behind striker Wayne Rooney.
The game had another slow start, but United’s first chance was a free-kick from Memphis which bounced perfectly for Frenchman Schneiderlin at the back post, but he failed to make good contact with the ball and it unfortunately went over the bar. Seconds later, the goalkeeper was needed again as he made a vital challenge to beat Dutchman Memphis to the ball, but had he failed it could have resulted in United being awarded a penalty.
Memphis had another chance, still during the first half hour, as he exchanged a pass with Rooney shortly before hitting a shot which deflected wide of the goal. United continued to dominate possession within the first half hour and were finally rewarded on 29 minutes.
After an exquisite through-ball from Mata, Januzaj latched onto the pass and found his way around defender Micah Richards before slotting it into the bottom right corner. Whether it took a deflection or not on the way in is debatable. This goal proved to the manager that Januzaj was worthy of a place in the starting line-up, despite it have been his first competitive goal since the 4-0 win over Newcastle during the 2014/15 season.
For the remaining 15 minutes of the half, United were sloppy in possession as they gave lots of balls a way which presented Villa with a few good chances, but luckily, they failed to take them. Because Villa dominated possession in the last 15 minutes of the half, we saw United defending quite a bit in the first half, and they defended well with Blind and Darmian being the stand out performers. Going into the interval, the score line was 1-0 to United, and we had seen some good play from both but only the one goal separated the sides.
Neither manager made any half time changes. Straight away, Villa played with a sense of urgency and nearly equalised when Jordan Ayew pounced on a lousy pass from Mata but he wastefully hit it over the ball not troubling goalkeeper Romero.
Several minutes later, Romero had to make a proper save as he kept out Gabriel Agbonlahor’ header. Agbonlahor had been the scorer when Villa last beat United at Old Trafford in 2009, and continued to make the headlines when he got sent off in this fixture last year at Villa Park.
Around the hour mark, Sherwood replaced arguably Villa’s stand out performer on the night Scott Sinclair with Rudy Gestede and Van Gaal made two substitutions as Herrera and Schweinsteiger came on in place of goalscorer Januzaj and midfielder Carrick.
Following the substitutions, Memphis should have scored his first competitive goal for the club when he was given a perfect chance thanks to another fantastic pass from Mata but the shot went wide and he was replaced shortly afterwards, with former Villa winger Ashley Young replacing him on 82 minutes.
For the last 10 minutes of the game, United defended well with Shaw and Darmian producing some brilliant defending, and they were rewarded when the final whistle blew with another key three points. No doubt the victory over Villa will have boosted United’s confidence even more ahead of Tuesday night’s encounter with Club Brugge.
It is vital that a United get the victory over Club Brugge over the two legs to guarantee their place in the Champions League group-stages, and recent wins over Villa and Tottenham will have no doubt boosted their chances physically and mentally. Last night’s victory over Villa meant that United are top of the league once again, and this time not joint-first. Well, for a few hours anyway until put rivals play their games over the coming days.
All that matters to United is the fact that we have achieved two wins from two games with two clean sheets. Next up for United is that Champions League first-leg against Club Brugge at Old Trafford.
Manchester United: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick (Schweinsteiger 60), Schneiderlin, Mata, Januzaj (Herrera 60), Memphis (Young 82), Rooney
Our Man of the Match: Darmian