Manchester United have managed to start the 2021 in the best possible manner. A win against Aston Villa on the New Year’s Day has brought the Devils much needed joy and great mood during the festive period. It was a decent start to a new year, with United getting level on points with Liverpool, the team currently sitting at the top of the standings.
The 2-1 win over Dean Smith’s side was a pleasant thing to see, but not everything in this match was ideal. Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer side will be in great shape looking forward to another Manchester Derby, this one coming in the one-off League Cup semifinal match.
After looking at the four things we learned about the win against Villa, now we will be looking at some underlying metrics from this game.
Man United Slightly Lucky To Get A Win
Manchester United were slightly lucky to get a win against Villa and the numbers show that as well. The Devils did not create that much and according to Statsbomb’s expected goals, Man United reached 1.9 xG, which is about enough to score those two goals, but Aston Villa were at 1.6 xG. Man United did not create that much more than the visitors and when we factor in that penalty, from open play United actually created less – just 1.2 xG. That in itself is not so bad for one match, but Solskjaer’s team was not so convincing in their victory.
One of the Man United players who was lively during the match, but did not have a goal or assist to his name to prove that was Marcus Rashford. He started playing on the right flank, something between a right winger and a right centre-forward, due to the fact Paul Pogba was on the opposite side. And Rashford wanted to make things happen, completing four out of seven attempted dribbles and making four shots, all of them from the edge of the box. He also had the longest progressive carries of all United players, bringing the ball forward more than any other player.
Fernandes Creates Like Madman
This was another case of Bruno Fernandes showing just how important he is for United. Once again, it proved right that Man United simply keep winning when he is on the scoresheet or he assists some of the goals. This time he scored the winner from the spot, but he also did his usual thing. He created five chances for his teammates and he also completed five passes into Villa’s penalty area. It seems like the Portuguese maestro will keep being a gift for this team in 2021 as well.
Grealish Shows His Drills
Jack Grealish has been rumoured with a potential move away from Aston Villa to some of the currently bigger Premier League sides, but he keeps staying at Villa Park. Against United, he showed why so many clubs are considering signing him. He was brilliant in possession, creating four chances for his teammates, getting three passes into United’s penalty area and also bringing the ball forward for almost 250 yards, basically urging Villa throughout the match to get closer to David de Gea’s goal.