Manchester United vs Aston Villa – 3 Key Battles Ft. Ronaldo, Konsa, and More

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Mad About EPL

Manchester United were dumped out of the EFL Cup by West Ham United on Wednesday, with David Moyes’ side avenging their Premier League defeat at the London Stadium last weekend.

The Red Devils are joint-top of the Premier League table having won four and drawn one in their first five games. Aston Villa, their upcoming opponents, also suffered elimination from the EFL Cup on Wednesday but will be upbeat heading to Old Trafford.

The pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, who must bounce back to after the EFL Cup midweek disappointment. Let’s have a look at the key battles that await us on Saturday.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo vs Ezri Konsa

Cristiano Ronaldo has hit the ground running since returning to Old Trafford this summer, scoring four goals in his last three games against Newcastle United, West Ham and BSC Young Boys.

The Portuguese megastar, 36, will be fresh and ready to go against Aston Villa after being rested in midweek. There is no stopping him at the moment, and his numbers keep rising even as he grows older. The 36-year-old is lethal and poacher in every sense, as demonstrated with his clever movement and finish for Manchester United’s equaliser against West Ham last weekend.

For Aston Villa, on-loan defender Axel Tuanzebe cannot face his parent club Manchester United, meaning Dean Smith could bring in Kortney Hause in his three-man backline that’ll also consist of Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings.

Considering Ronaldo’s athleticism and movement in and around the box, the aerially strong and energetic Konsa could be tasked to man-mark the Man United star out of the game.

#2 Scott McTominay vs Douglas Luiz

Scott McTominay recovered after his groin surgery and produced a strong performance in the midfield against West Ham last weekend.

The Scotsman, 24, has been a reliable performer under Solskjaer and is expected to start on Saturday after being an unused substitute in the EFL Cup defeat to the Hammers on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Douglas Luiz has been the anchor for the Villans. Sitting deep in the midfield, he breaks the opposition attacks and controls the tempo of the game.

With John McGinn doubtful after suffering a head injury against Everton last weekend, the Brazilian will have an even bigger responsibility in midfield to stop the hosts from penetrating.

It would be interesting to watch which player takes control from the start and dominates the midfield battle at Old Trafford.

#3 Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane vs Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings

The addition of Raphael Varane has strengthened Man United’s defence, whilst providing Harry Maguire with an assured and experienced partner which he previously lacked. However, the Red Devils skipper hasn’t been at his best in the opening weeks of the new season and almost conceded a goal at West Ham last weekend.

On Saturday, Maguire and Varane are likely to face the duo of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings. Watkins hasn’t enjoyed a great start to the season, unlike last term, and fluffed several golden chances in Villa’s 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League. Ings has hit the ground running at Villa with two goals and as many assists in five games.

Considering Maguire and Varane are still developing an understanding at the back, Watkins and Ings will look to take advantage and hurt the home side. Certainly, this promises to be an intriguing battle between United’s centre-backs and the Villa strikers.

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