Two familiar opponents lock horns again at Villa Park tonight, just five days after their FA Cup showdown.
Manchester United booked a fourth-round date with Middlesbrough with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Monday night, with Scott McTominay scoring a crucial early header.
However, that certainly didn’t tell the whole story, with Steven Gerrard’s Villa easily the better team throughout and having two goals ruled out as they created plenty of chances.
Despite the win, United’s performance did little to allay lingering concerns over their current disjointed squad and the lack of progress shown under Ralf Rangnick.
Aston Villa could debut new signings Lucas Digne and Philippe Coutinho as they try to snap a three-game losing streak and secure a first league double against tonight’s opponents since 1954-55.
The September encounter between these sides was dramatic, with Kortney Hause scoring what turned out to be the winning goal before giving away a penalty which was then missed by Bruno Fernandes.
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8 mins: Well, that’s going to help United settle in, an early gift.
The away fans have a great voice and the players on the pitch look really comfortable. They started well, haven’t seen anything from Watkins and Buendia so far.
GOAL! Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United | Bruno Fernandes 6′
United have the lead in bizarre circumstances. Telles stood on the ball as he ran over it to allow Fernandes to drive it forward from the free kick.
He lets fly from distance, it’s straight on Martinez… but he completely misses it and it rolls on the line. Terrible mistake.
4 mins: All United so far the game is being played deep in Villa territory.
Telles already has joy advancing on the left. He does it again, receives an elbow from Sanson and wins the free kick.
2 min : Nice ball on the Telles line, and Konsa has to cross and put it behind for a corner. First chance to put the ball in the box for United.
Fernandes takes, Digne heads in but it’s another corner.
Second chance for United? No. Another bad ball and Cash hammers it.
TO START UP!
United kick off and we’re on our way!
Here we go, the players are eliminated. Very good atmosphere in Villa Park.
The home side will look to put up a similar display to Old Trafford on Monday night, just with a little more clinical advantage this time around.
Coutinho walked out onto the Villa Park pitch, applauding the fans as they gave him a warm welcome.
It remains to be seen how fit he is and whether he is ready for an appearance on the bench in the second half.
Kick-off just five minutes away…
Steven Gerrard on new recruits
“They are two players with real pedigree, international experience,” Gerrard said.
“Two technically gifted players who have played at the highest level, who have already been to big clubs and produced top performances, and won there as well.
“It’s important that if we’re going to add to the dressing room they have pedigree and they also know how to win, and they’re going to help young players with their elite standards.”
The warm-ups are off to a good start…
A win tonight would take United into the top six. That would put them within three points of West Ham, for whom United will have one game less after this game.
Lots of incentives, will today be the day when everything starts for Rangnick and his team?