Aston Villa will be aiming to keep their slim top-four hopes alive by beating Manchester United on Sunday.
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Manchester United vs Aston Villa predictions
If only Aston Villa had appointed Unai Emery last summer.
The Spaniard has done an exceptional job since he replaced Steven Gerrard in the Villa Park dugout on November 1.
Had the campaign started on that date, Emery’s team would be third right now, behind only Manchester City and Arsenal.
As it is, they are three places further back in sixth. The fact they have even a slim chance of finishing in the top four is testament to the tremendous work done by the former Arsenal head coach.
It is still very unlikely that Villa will be playing Champions League football next season. They have a six-point deficit to overturn and their upcoming opponents, who are currently fourth, have played two fewer games.
But a victory at Old Trafford would keep things interesting to say the least. And given the form Villa are in, that outcome is a very real possibility.
Erik ten Hag’s side are still in a reasonably strong position, though. They have plenty of fixtures left to fulfill, a situation which acts as an insurance policy of sorts.
Villa have charged up the table and Liverpool are resurgent, but United should have enough points in the bag to get over the line.
Even so, Sunday’s showdown at Old Trafford will have a significant effect on the race for the Champions League places.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa betting tips
A fascinating game is in store at Old Trafford, as Manchester United strive to take a step closer to a top-four finish.
Draw or Aston Villa – 21/20 (bet365)
To say that Aston Villa are in fantastic form would be an understatement.
Emery’s charges have won eight and drawn two of their last 10 matches. Since that run started with a 2-0 victory over Everton in late February, no team in the division has amassed more points than their 26.
Another statistic that stands out concerns Villa’s defensive solidity. Their backline has been breached only three times in those 10 outings. No team – not even Premier League title favourites Manchester City – can match that record.
Villa are going places. Their unbeaten run may well end before the conclusion of the campaign, but the current team is unrecognisable from the one which struggled to get going under Gerrard in the early months of 2022/23.
Make no mistake: Manchester United will be in for a tough game on Sunday.
So too will Villa, not least because the Red Devils are pretty strong on home turf. Only Manchester City and Arsenal have better records at their respective stadiums.
But Villa’s combination of attacking quality and defensive resolve bodes well for this trip to Old Trafford. At the very least, the away team can avoid defeat in this one.
Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals – 20/21 (bet365)
After overseeing a 1-0 victory over Fulham in the midweek round of fixtures, Emery has now taken charge of 20 matches as Aston Villa manager. His team has scored in all of them.
That is some achievement, especially as Villa have faced Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United in that time.
Their top scorer Ollie Watkins has been key but there have been contributions from elsewhere too. Tyrone Mings was the match-winner against Fulham, while Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Bertrand Traore and Jacob Ramsey have all chipped in this month alone.
Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by Tottenham on Thursday. That was a disappointing result given Ten Hag’s men held a 2-0 lead at the interval.
United lost their way after the break, perhaps because they did not expect Spurs to mount a comeback. But they had some excellent attacking moments throughout the match in north London, taking 17 shots in total.
With all that in mind, the attacks could get the better of the defences on Sunday afternoon.
Villa have been solid of late but they will struggle to shut out United in front of their own fans, while the home side’s backline will be weakened without first-choice centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
Marcus Rashford to score any time – 6/5 (bet365)
Rashford was on the scoresheet against Tottenham, continuing his terrific season. Only Erling Haaland, Harry Kane and Ivan Toney have scored more Premier League goals in 2022/23 than his 16.
Those three players are all out-and-out centre-forwards, whereas Rashford tends to be deployed from the left.
Against Tottenham, though, Ten Hag used the England international through the middle. It was a good choice, as Rashford doubled Manchester United’s lead shortly before half-time.
As we have already noted, Villa are a tough nut to crack at the back. Rashford will have to work hard to find space in and around the penalty area.
But given his performances since the turn of the year, United’s main man will be confident of making his mark.
The likes of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes, Antony and Jadon Sancho should provide ample ammunition for Rashford, who is also capable of creating chances for himself.
How to watch Manchester United vs Aston Villa
- Location: Old Trafford, Manchester, England.
- Date and time: Thursday 30 April 2023, 2pm.
- How to watch: Not being shown live in the UK.
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer from London. He predominantly covers the Premier League and has had work published by the Guardian, FourFourTwo, ESPN and others.
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