4 min – Man United 0 Aston Villa 0
Another decent patch of play by United is ended – and wasted – when Pogba puts in a wayward cross. A little sloppy.
1 min – Man United 0 Aston Villa 0
Some trouble at the back early on caused by Fred, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. Fernandes latches onto a superb ball over the top from Fred, gets a shot away from close range tight on the left but Martinez saves. The ball falls to Pogba but he chooses not to shoot before being unable to and the danger is cleared…
Five minutes until kick off
What Man United team is going to show up tonight? Can Villa cause an upset? How much of an upset would it actually be? A fair sized one, really.
Premier League table: Top eight
This is after Everton’s 1-0 home defeat to West Ham, which finished a short while ago. This means Villa can go third with a win this evening.
Back on their perch? A Man Utd-Liverpool title race would be good for English football
Can we hope for a renewal of this kind of emotional fight, an epic title race between the two biggest clubs in English football? In truth it feels premature. Even the most ardent United fan would not expect them to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool just yet and there is a sense within the club that they cannot quite believe they are in second-place never mind so close to the leaders who they face in the league at Anfield on January 17.
Good evening football fans
And welcome to our coverage for a reasonably significant game at the top of the Premier League table, as Manchester United take on Aston Villa in the second of today’s New Year’s Day games. The fact that a win and three points would put Manchester United level with a stuttering Liverpool at the top of the table is perhaps the most significant thing about it. That said, Villa can continue their impressive season with another win and they’d be back into the Champions League spots with 29 points from 15 games.
Are Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men really title contenders? Their form has been good on results alone but the actual performances…? Well, they have been hot and cold, quite often boiling and freezing within a single game, especially away from home. Can’t fault their attack but the defence is the iffy part.
Still, the fact that we are approaching the half-way stage of the season and they are up there means you cannot really argue with it. The league isn’t won after 19 games, though, it done after 38. Given how congested the top half of the table is – just nine points from first to 10th – a bad run of form from anyone could see them quickly slip down.
Villa will not be an easy proposition, especially considering United’s unconvincing run of form at home. Dean Smith’s men have, like United, won three of their last five – and are also unbeaten in that period, too – and have put in some great performances in the process. Despite going down to 10 men against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, they demolished the South Londoners 3-0 and it could have been a few more. It has been a strange old season, so you certainly wouldn’t put it past them to stun the home team here today.
The match kicks off at 8pm and we’ll have team news very shortly. Stay tuned for all the latest updates and live action from Old Trafford here.