Manchester United v Aston Villa: Premier League – live | Premier League

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Key events

44 min: Fernades plays a long diagonal towards Rashford, who takes on and beats Ezri Konsa. Cutting inside, he shifts the ball on to his left foot and then spanks it wide of the near upright.

Man Utd look in dire need of some asthma inhalers, skin creams, bespoke pillows, maybe even a Triamcinolone shot or some TUE-cleared prednisolone. And obviously some marginal gains. Where on earth are they gonna find that?

— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) December 26, 2023

40 min: Marcus Rashford is penalised for offside after running on to a ball in behind down the inside left channel from Christian Eriksen.

Another example of Man United conceding multiple goals in short spells. Two in five minutes tonight. Two in six minutes against West Ham. Two in five minutes against Bournemouth. And that’s just this month.

— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonESPN) December 26, 2023

35 min: Possibly motivated by the possibility of outright revolt in the stands of Old Trafford, Manchester United’s players appear to have realised this isn’t actually fever dream and is actually happening in real life. Hojlund eschews a chance to volley a ball dinked his way goalwards first time but tees up Rashford instead. His low drive is saved comfortably by Martinez.

34 min: Congratulations to Manchester United, who have just celebrated their 700th minute of gadding about to little or no effect on the football pitch without scoring a goal.

33 min: Alejandro Garnacho receives a fine pass from Fernandes drills the ball low and hard across the face of the Villa six-yard box. Trying to sneak in behind Diego Carlos, Hojlund is unable to get in position to tap it home.

31 min: A bit better from United, with Rashford latching on to a pass across the fac e of the Villa penalty area before unleash a shot. It’s low and hard but doesn’t trouble Emi Martinez unduly.

28 min: If, as the report I posted earlier on this report suggested, Sir Jim Ratcliffe really is planning on relieving up to 300 Manchester United staff of their duties once he gets his feet under the table, one imagines whoever was supposed to be marking Leander Dendoncker at that corner will find themselves near the top of his list. The names Antony, Anthony Martial, Erik ten Hag and Jadon Sancho may also feature prominently.

GOAL! Manchester United 0-2 Aston Villa (Dendoncker 26)

Villa double their lead! Completely unmarked at the far post, Clement Lenglet heads a John McGinn corner back across the face of goal. Leander Dendoncker volleys the ball past Onana with a neat flick.

Aston Villa's Leander Dendoncker scores their side's second goal with a tidy flick against Aston Villa.
Leander Dendoncker doubles Aston Villa’s lead with a tidy flick. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

VAR: The goal survives a VAR check for an offside and it’s been awarded to John McGinn. Hats off to Leon Bailey, who stood directly behind Andre Onana in the build-up to the free-kick being taken, before darting back into an onside position as McGinn shaped to begin his run-up to strike the ball. He may well have messed with the United goalkeeper’s mind.

GOAL! Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa (McGinn 22)

Villa lead! John McGinn curls the free-kick in from the right touchline and it bounces in the six-yard box before fizzing past Andre Onana. I’m not sure anyone else got a touch!

A free-kick from Aston Villa's John McGinn’s evades everyone and goes into the net.
John McGinn’s free-kick evades everyone and Aston Villa have the lead. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Aston Villa's John McGinn (right) celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal.
McGinn (right) celebrates his goal. Photograph: Dave Thompson/AP

20 min: Leander Dendoncker drops to the ground in as series of instalments, holding his chest and screaming in agony after being subjected to what looked a very slight nudge in the back by Bruno Fernandes. Free-kick for Villa, wide on the right.

19 min: Jacob Ramsey crosses the ball into the Manchester United penalty area, where Rapahale Varane hacks it clear with a minimum of fuss or finesse.

18 min: Marcus Rashford is played in behind by a ball over the top. It bounces in front of him and is headed clear by Emi Martinez, who had rushed out of his area to avert the danger.

17 min: An attempted cross from Lucas Digne goes out for a Villa corner off Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Douglas Luiz’s inswinger is poor and easily headed away by Eriksen.

15 min: Manchester United break upfield and Alejandro Garnacho plays the ball inside from the right to Christian Eriksen. Instead of taking a shot from 20 yards out, he tries to help it along the line to Marcus Rashford but miscues. A promising attack breaks down.

12 min: McGinn is penalised for a foul on Bruno Fernandes and United send Marcus Rashford on his way up the left wing. He runs into traffic as he tries to cut inside and loses possession.

11 min: A knockdown sits up nicely for Christian Eriksen just outside the Villa penalty area. He strikes it sweetly enough but his effort is right down the throat of Emi Martinez.

10 min: McGinn gives the ball away in midfield and Hojliund saets off towards the Villa penalty area. Clement Lenglet stands his ground and the young Dane is unable to get past him.

8 min: John Mcginn wins the first corner of the game for Villa. He takes it himself, sending the ball into the penalty area in front of the Stretford End. United clear at the near post.

7 min: It’s been a scrappy start, with plenty of throw-ins punctuating the play. The game has yet to find its rhythm and there have been no chances of any kind for either team so far.

Aston Villa's John McGinn tussles with Manchester United's Jonny Evans.
Aston Villa’s John McGinn tussles with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

5 min: The ball’s played from deep for Ollie Watkins to chase but the Villa striker fails to prevent it from going out for a goal-kick.

3 min: Manchester United throw-in, deep inside their own half. Aaron Wan-Bissaka takes it and Villa steal possession. Leon Bailey tries to send in a cross from the right but it’s blocked. The ball ends up in the clutches of Onana.

2 min: An early cross from the left into the VIlla box is headed onwards across the face of goal by Rasmus Hojlund. He’s immediately flagged for offside.

Manchester United v Aston Villa is go …

1 min: Manchester United get the ball rolling in the last of today’s Boxing Day fixtures. It’s played back to Andre Onana, who immediately boots it upfield.

Not long now: Led by their captains Bruno Fernandes and John McGinn, the players of both teams make their way out on to the Old Trafford sward. They line up either side of Craig Pawson and his team of match officials for the last of the pre-match formalities ahead of kick off, which is just a couple of minutes away.

David Brailsford, pictured here giving the players of Newcastle United’s a pre-season pep-talk, is in attendance at Old Trafford tonight on a reconaissance mission for his boss Jim Ratcliffe.
David Brailsford, pictured here giving the players of Newcastle United’s a pre-season pep-talk, is in attendance at Old Trafford tonight on a reconaissance mission for his boss Jim Ratcliffe. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

Erik ten Hag: “In every game, they have to step up,” said the Manchester United of his players in the buildd-up to this game. “I said the word two or three times now: the players have to take responsibility. I have to take responsibility and the players have to take responsibility.

“Maybe in moments you expect from the seniors even more with young players around. But if you are good enough, you are also old enough. We have to do it together. It doesn’t matter what age it is. We have to put a team [out] who has to win the game.

“I am not disappointed by the attitude. But of course we know what the standard is at Manchester United and we have to win as a team. So I take the word responsibility. We have to take that as a team and every individual has to contribute 100% in that responsibility we have.”

Erik ten Hag has watched his Manchester United side lose 13 games in all competitions so far this season.
Erik ten Hag has watched his Manchester United side lose 13 games in all competitions so far this season. Photograph: Rob Newell/CameraSport/Getty Images

Unai Emery: While you were stuffing your face with mince pies and booze yesterday, the Grinchy Aston Villa boss and his players were concentrating on their final preparations for tonight’s match.

“The main thing for me and the most important thing is to prepare the best as possible the match,” said Emery upon asked how he’d be spending Christmas Day. “I am going to enjoy Christmas after the match on Tuesday, or even after the match against Burnley because when we are playing matches, the most important thing is to prepare and try to focus.

“We are happy and I am proud of our work, but I want to finish on Tuesday trying to face Manchester United about being in this moment better than them in the table. They are contenders to be in the top seven or the top four more than us. This is a good match for how we can face them, how we are with them until the day 19 how we are facing the teams we are competing with to be there.”

All Aston Villa manager Unai Emery wants for Christmas is a win at Old Trafford.
All Aston Villa manager Unai Emery wants for Christmas is a win at Old Trafford. Photograph: Ryan Browne/ProSports/Shutterstock

Those teams: Manchester United have made four changes to the team that lost against West Ham last time out. Diogo Dalot returns from suspension and lines up at left-back in place of Luke Shaw, who is injured. Raphael Varane returns from illness in place of Willy Kambala, whilie Antony is dropped to the bench, with Marcus Rashford coming in as United look for their first goal in four games. Christian Eriksen starts for the first time since getting injured in mid-November and replaces Scott McTominay in midfield.

Unai Emery makes two changes from the VIlla side that drew with Sheffield United. Diego Carlos comes in at centre-back, with Ezri Konsa likely to move to right-back as cover for the suspended Matty Cash. Leander Dendoncker starts in midfield, in place of Moussa Diaby.

Back in the Manchester United starting line-up for the first time in six weeks, Christian Eriksen signs autographs on his way into Old Trafford.
Back in the Manchester United starting line-up for the first time in six weeks, Christian Eriksen signs autographs on his way into Old Trafford. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images

Manchester United v Aston Villa line-ups

Manchester United: Onana, Wan-Bissaka, Evans, Varane, Dalot, Mainoo, Eriksen, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho, Hojlund.

Subs: Bayindir, Reguilon, Antony, Pellistri, van de Beek, McTominay, Gore, Mejbri, Kambwala.

Aston Villa: Martinez, Konsa, Diego Carlos, Lenglet, Digne, Bailey, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Dendoncker, Watkins.

Subs: Torres, Alex Moreno, Chambers, Diaby, Zaniolo, Duran, Marschall, Iroegbunam, Proctor.

Tonight’s match officials

  • Referee: Craig Pawson

  • Referee’s assistants: Richard West and Steve Meredith

  • Fourth official: Rob Jones

  • Video Assistant: Referee: Stuart Attwell

  • Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

Craig Pawson will take charge of his 16th game of the season in all competitions at Old Trafford tonight.
Craig Pawson will take charge of his 16th game of the season in all competitions at Old Trafford tonight. Photograph: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

Early team news

Diogo Dalot returns from suspension, but with Amad Diallo, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia all injured, Erik ten Hag will be hoping that the virus which ruled both Raphael Varane and Antony Martial out of his side’s defeat at West Ham has done its worst. Rasmus Hojlund was also reported to be suffering from illness and was forced off after 57 minutes of ineffective huffing and puffing at the London Stadium.

The United’s striker came in for some criticism on the back of his ineffective performance but barely got a touch of the ball during the hour he spent on the field. Jadon Sancho, who has not kicked a ball in competition for United since August, remains in his manager’s bad books and won’t feature tonight.

Villa right-back Matty Cash has to sit this one out after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Sheffield United and joins Boubacar Kamara on the Naughty Step. The French midfielder is serving the second game of the ban he picked up for his small role in the pantomime brawl initiated by his team-mate Emi Martinez towards the end of Villa’s recent win over Brentford. The fitness of Pau Torres is also in doubt, while Unai Emery is also without Emi Buendia, Tyrone Mings, Bertrand Traore and Youri Tielemans remain out.

Premier League: Manchester United v Aston Villa

Manchester United fans enjoyed some long overdue festive cheer on Christmas Eve when it was confirmed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had finally completed a deal to buy a 25% minority stake in their club.

Quite how the British billionaire’s investment will pan out remains to be seen but it means he and his staff are now in control of football operations in the club and will surely be hard pushed to make a bigger mess of them than those currently in charge.

Or will they? As somebody who takes a keen reasonably keen interest in professional bike-racing, the news that Sir David Brailsford is likely to be given a major say in how things are run at Old Trafford would be a major source of concern if I was a United fan. Other opinions are, of course, available but expect any “gains” made by the players to be of the famously “marginal” variety that Dave loves so much.

Having posted their worth set of pre-Christmas results since 1931, United come into this game on the back of a humbling defeat at the hands of West Ham at the London Stadium. In third place in the title race, their visitors failed to win at home in the league for the first time in 16 games last time out. Indeed, they were lucky to escape with a draw against Sheffield United courtesy of a late, late Nicolo Zaniolo equaliser in added time.

Both sides will be eager to get back to winning ways under the Tuesday night lights at Old Trafford in a Boxing Day fixture that kicks off at 8pm (GMT).

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