Reliable bookmaker 1xBet talks about the Premier League 19th-round central battle, in which Manchester United will host Aston Villa on December 26.
In 2023, only Manchester City surpasses Villa
Unai Emery was mocked a lot after his inglorious spell at Arsenal. Now, the English public is looking fresh at the Basque and starting to take him seriously again.
At the end of 2022, Emery took over Aston Villa as a fighter for survival with a primitive playing model left as a legacy by Steven Gerrard. A series of successful transfers (Pau Torres, Moussa Diaby, and Youri Tielemans) seriously strengthened the club. In addition, the coach managed not only to fit newcomers into the lineup successfully but also to get the most out of the representatives of the old guard – Emiliano Martinez, Douglas Louis, and John McGinn.
In the second half of the 2022/2023 season, Aston Villa rose to seventh place and made it into European cups for the first time in 12 years. This season, the team is methodically beating the giants and, according to Pep Guardiola, is a real contender for the Premier League title. It seems that the Catalan speaks sincerely this time and does not make a routine compliment to relax his opponent.
Aston Villa is just a point behind leading Arsenal, and its home run of 15 consecutive Premier League wins instills fear and trepidation in their opponents. If we take the calendar year 2023, only the almighty Manchester City scored more points during this period than the team from Birmingham. Aston Villa are now in optimal form since the start of the season. The team has not lost since November 5, and victories over Manchester City and Arsenal in two matches in a row prove it is deservedly at the top of the Premier League standings.
The only fly in the ointment is Aston Villa’s away results. The away team scored only 14 points out of a possible 27, but this season, all the league leaders are not very stable in foreign stadiums.
Manchester United’s last chance?
Erik Ten Hag faced a crisis in his second season. The famous club, suffering from weak management, controversial transfers, internal squabbles, and uneven leadership, is in constant turbulence.
Manchester United have already been eliminated from the Carabao Cup (a tournament they managed to win last season) and have disgraced themselves in the Champions League, finishing last in a not-so-strong group. The goalless draw with Liverpool proved that the Red Devils have character but demonstrated that United can only avoid losing against top opponents by playing like an underdog.
Just recently, Harry Maguire was named the best player of the month in the Premier League, and Andre Onana had a series of clean sheets, but with the onset of December, the carriage turned into a pumpkin again. A victory over Aston Villa will leave Manchester United with a chance to finish in the Champions League zone for the second season in a row. Defeat would almost certainly be the end of hopes.
What to expect
Aston Villa has a clear advantage in the level of play and an extra day of rest before the match at Old Trafford. Moreover, on December 22, the Villans will play at home against the outsider Sheffield United and try to win without putting in too much effort. But United will have to recover from a difficult trip to West Ham on December 23.
The Red Devils don’t have many trump cards, but they do exist. Manchester United can take advantage of Aston Villa’s problems in away games and play from a position of strength. However, the team desperately lacks attacking power – just remember the lack of goals scored in the matches with Bayern (0-1) and Liverpool (0-0). Erik ten Hag also has an advantage over Emery in head-to-head matches. Basque began his Aston Villa career with a 3-1 win, but the United manager beat his Old Trafford counterpart twice – 4-2 in the Carabao Cup and 1-0 in the Premier League.
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