Under-Par United Still Too Good for Villa

1. Manchester United were not at their best against Aston Villa at Villa Park but they still managed to register a comfortable win. Another three goals scored and an important clean sheet were a couple of positives at the end of the match, and they should have scored more. Nevertheless, the team did not perform with the customary post-COVID panache and United struggled to control the game in the first half. Despite scoring twice, Villa had their chances in the first forty-five minutes and apart from hitting the post, there were periods where the Villains took the match to United and they were certainly unfortunate to trail 2-0 at the break. The second half was a stroll for United and after scoring the third goal, they just toyed with Villa and should have hit them for more. That first half though made me think that some of the first eleven might need a break, just maybe. Playing twice a week with a certain consistency takes the toll on players, mentally if not physically. Both Bruno Fernandes and AWB were below par and I would not be surprised if they start the next match on the bench.

2. One player who is thriving however is Paul Pogba. Paul’s ability was never doubted, only his consistency to produce that quality week in week out has been in question ever since he returned to Old Trafford for the second time. Against Villa, Pogba confirmed the improvement that he has been making in the last weeks since the restart. These days he has ballers in the team and he looks to be enjoying himself, which did not necessarily happen with Mourinho. His position alongside Matic in midfield provides him with a certain degree of freedom to be constantly involved in the United build up play, where he excels. It is a pleasure to watch Pogba moving the ball around and spraying long-passes to his teammates. He added a well taken goal to his impressive performance against Villa. What I noticed also was that when Fernandes was subbed in the last twenty minutes, Pogba was pushed forward in that three-man midfield and he was very dangerous in that position. He’s certainly reaching an excellent level of match fitness and he seems certain to stay for a few more years with us after the difficult period over the last year.

3. Looking at the Premier League table after the win against Villa, despite being still in 5th place, we are now just one point behind Leicester and two from Chelsea. Given that United will face Leicester in the last match of the Premier League season, United’s destiny is now in their hands. Win the last four matches and no matter what the other candidates for the Champions League places do, United will play in the Champions League next season.

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