Aston Villa-Manchester United Preview

The Associated Press

Whether inside or out of the Premier League, Manchester United are still looking for some consistency.

They'll continue that quest Sunday against visiting Aston Villa.

Manchester United (4-5-4) suffered their first loss in Europa League play on Thursday, 2-1 at Astana. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer featured an extremely young side in a match that did not have much baring on the tournament considering the Red Devils are already headed to the knockout stage.

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In the Premier League, United entered the weekend a disappointing ninth in the table and coming off a wild 3-3 draw at Sheffield United from last weekend. Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford (team-leading seven goals) each scored over a seven-minute span of the second half to help Man United overcome a 2-0 hole. However, the hosts equalised in the 90th minute to send United home with only a point.

"It's not a lack of desire, it's maybe that confidence in themselves," Solskjaer told United's official website of his side's rough start and ultimately disappointing finish.

"I don't doubt them wanting to win but sometimes young players don't always know how to win challenges like this. We must have learned a lot (from the Sheffield United match). I'm sure the players have."

United are back at Old Trafford, where they are 3-2-1 and won 3-1 over Brighton & Hove Albion in their most recent league match there on Nov. 10.

Manchester United and Aston Villa last met up in April 2016, in the Premier League. The Red Devils are 11-3-0 against Villa over all competitions since losing 1-0 at Old Trafford on Dec. 12, 2009.

Villa (4-2-7) began the matchday in 15th place after snapping a three-game league losing streak with a 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United on Monday. Conor Hourihane had a goal with an assist and Anwar El Ghazi also scored for Villa, whose goals came four minutes apart in the first-half.

"It was a good performance, especially in the first-half," manager Dean Smith, who was awarded with a new four-year deal this week, told Aston Villa's official website.

"We were relentless with ball, but also patient because we knew we had to be."

Hourihane has two goals and two assists over his last four Premier League matches. This was an important effort for the Irish midfielder, who has often found himself on the outside looking in whilst playing in eight games and starting five.

"He's answered me back in the best way," Smith said.

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