Aston Villa outclass Manchester United to give Emery dream debut

Unai Emery could hardly have asked for a more memorable Aston Villa debut, as the Villans made history in a 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday at Villa Park.

The Villans beat Manchester United for the first time in 27 years, and it was on from the early moments. Leon Bailey scored in the eighth minute and it was 2-0 after 11 minutes when Lucas Digne made his returning presence felt with a sensational free kick.


United drew within a goal before halftime through a Jacob Ramsey own goal before Ramsey restored the two-goal advantage mere minutes into the second frame.

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What we learned from Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Villa should dream big: Let’s not scapegoat Steven Gerrard, who did great things in Glasgow, but is there any question that Unai Emery is a more accomplished manager to demand the respect of this team. Villa was already looking much improved just by regular use of Leander Dendoncker and Leon Bailey, but now they look complete. Emiliano Buendia’s also been unleashed and Digne’s return is no small addition. With Emiliano Martinez between the sticks and a good but not deep core of defenders, Villa can dream of Europe sooner rather than later if the side stays healthy.

United’s blip more than Ronaldo-sized (perhaps Bruno-sized, though): It will be easy to slight Cristiano Ronaldo for another poor performance as his loud personality and clear discontent make it ‘all about him’ even when it isn’t, but Erik ten Hag won’t be able to point to many players as positive factors in this loss. Lisandro Martinez was good and Diogo Dalot not the problem but all-in-all this was a super forgettable performance that should remind United of the project in front of it. Christian Eriksen is a good piece but Casemiro wasn’t at his best and Donny van de Beek did not shake off the rust s he tried to fill the giant shoes of Bruno Fernandes. Three other injuries and illnesses (Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, Antony) were felt as this game really presented Villa an opportunity that it seized with both hands.

Leon Bailey goal video: Villans shock United early

Lucas Digne free kick goal video

Tactical focus

Erik ten Hag was clearly hoping that Donny van de Beek could conjure magic after getting his most minutes of the season in the win over Real Sociedad on Thursday but it didn’t happen (certainly not enough to offset Bruno Fernandes’ suspension). Villa’s Douglas Luiz and Leander Dendoncker won the battle against DVDB and the game was yelling for Fred or Scott McTominay and got neither.

Stars of the Show

Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Leon Bailey

Douglas Luiz

Emiliano Martinez

Tyrone Mings

Lisandro Martinez

What’s next?

These same two teams meet at Old Trafford in the League Cup third round on Thursday.

Man United then visits Fulham on Sunday while Villa is off to Brighton in not one, but two intriguing Premier League clashes.

How to watch Aston Villa vs Man United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium

Key storylines & star players

Aaron Danks’ two-game tenure as interim manager saw Aston Villa achieve the best of results as well as the worst of results. The 4-0 victory over Brentford, which preceded Emery’s appointment, snapped a five-game winless skid before the 4-0 defeat to Newcastle brought them crashing back down to earth ahead of Emery’s start date. Now, the real work is already underway with a week of training in the books and a difficult, but winnable, debut to come on Sunday.

Injuries will make it anything but a cakewalk for Manchester United, who could be without as many as three of their top four attackers, with Bruno Fernandes suspended and Antony and Jadon Sancho both in a race against time to be fit. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal in the win over West Ham last weekend, but Fernandes played a star role before picking up his 5th yellow card of the season in second-half stoppage time. As a result, Cristiano Ronaldo could be handed another start (perhaps his final one for the club), though it would be his third in a week at the age of 37, leaving Ten Hag with only imperfect answers.

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Boubacar Kamara (knee), Ludwig Augustinsson (hamstring)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Bruno Fernandes (suspension), Raphael Varane (thigh), Axel Tuanzebe (undisclosed), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE), Antony (undisclosed), Jadon Sancho (illness).

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