Focus Fixture: Can Man Utd continue strong run of form at Villa Park

By Scott Thornton

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9 February 2024

Aston Villa welcome Manchester United to Villa Park on Sunday for this intriguing Premier League encounter. This one could prove to be crucial in the race for European football and the home side are the bookmaker’s favourite.

The Form

Aston Villa are going through their first real rough patch of the season. They were eliminated from the FA Cup midweek and have now won just one of their last five matches across all competitions. The minor slump has seen them drop outside of the top four but they still hold a six-point lead over Manchester United.

Unai Emery has done a remarkable job since taking over at Villa Park. His side plays some scintillating football and could establish themselves as one of the top sides in England over the coming seasons. Aston Villa have plenty of quality players in their ranks that marry well with Emery’s brand of football.

Villa’s home form is particularly impressive. They have scored the same amount of goals at home as Liverpool.  Emery’s men have found the net in all of their games at Villa Park across all competitions this season.

Manchester United were optimistic ahead of the season but that quickly changed as performances remained poor for the opening months of the season. There as reasons to be hopeful. The Red Devils have several talented young players they can call upon but it could be too late to salvage a place in next season’s Champions League.

Erik Ten Hag’s side had been struggling for goals but they appear to have found the Midas touch in front of goal since the turn of the year. United are unbeaten in their last five matches but their away record against the better sides in the division leaves a lot to be desired.

The Runners and the Riders

Unai Emery will be without Emiliano Buendia, Tyron Mings, and Jhon Duran for this one. Ezri Konsa is also a big miss. However, Villa are able to call upon all of their big hitters.

Manchester United’s ambitions this season have been thwarted by injury. Erik Ten hag has been forced to make wholesale changes to his starting eleven with several key players ruled out for long periods. Lisandro Martinez was brought off in the win over West Ham and is back on the injury table shortly after returning to the starting eleven. Mason Mount, Tyrell Malacia, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Anthony Martial are also ruled out of this one.

What They Said

Aston Villa hammered Sheffield United 5-0 in their last Premier League match. His team were able to produce a big performance to bounce back from a defeat. After that win he said “It was very important not to lose the focus, don’t lose our objective and try to be consistent in our way; try to react quickly. Not everything we did was bad against Newcastle, but we had to keep being consistent like we were.” He will be hoping for a similar response after the defeat against Chelsea.

Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo have stolen the limelight in United’s recent matches. Erik Ten Hag couldn’t hide his excitement when talking about the young trio. He said "I think they enjoy to play together, adventure, they want to do it together. They want also to pass the ball to each other and that everyone can play to the qualities and score goals.”


This is a match that promises plenty of goals. Aston Villa are averaging 2.73 goals at Villa Park this season and managed a 3-1 win in this fixture last season. Emery’s men held a two-goal lead at Old Trafford just after Christmas before United rallied and secured a 3-2 win. 

Both teams have scored in eight of Villa’s last 10 home matches and there has been an average of 3.7 goals over that period.

Manchester United seem to have settled on a forward line of Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund and Marcus Rashford. All three have the pace to take advantage of Villa’s famously high line. Emery’s side force the most offsides in the division but the United attackers will be confident of springing the trap in phases.

Ten Hag’s side have scored an average of three goals per game in 2024. They were clinical against West Ham and will be hoping to carry that into this game. There are still question marks about United's defence. They capitulated in the last 25 minutes at Molineux before being bailed out by Kobbie Mainoo. As a result, I’m backing both teams to score and over 2.5 goals in the game.

Recommended bet: Both teams to score and over 2.5 at 1.79

Bet Builder Tip

We are also backing goals as part of our longshot bet builder. This one looks primed for goals so I’m happy to back over 3.5 goals in the match. Villa may not have been at their brilliant best in recent matches but this angle has won in four of their last five Premier League matches.

I’m also backing Rasmus Hojlund to score in the match. The Danish striker faced plenty of criticism in the early stages of his United career but he is starting to look like a key asset in the Red Devils’ attack. Erik Ten Hag’s side have started to create more chances for the man who found the net six five in the Champions League so now Rasmus is making his mark in the Premier League. He has four goals and two assists in his last four league appearances.

Our final bet builder angle is Aston Villa to win the match. Erik Ten Hag hasn’t overseen an away win over any of the Premier League’s top nine since he took the reins at Manchester United. They have won just one of their last five away league matches. That was the dramatic win over Wolves.

Villa also boast an exceptional home record. Their last home league match was against Newcastle and the first Premier League defeat in front of their own fans. They have beaten the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal on home soil.

Recommended bet: Over 3.5 goals, Rasmus Hojlund to score and Aston Villa to win at 12.50

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