Manchester United’s 2022 FA Cup campaign starts with a home fixture against Aston Villa, a fixture with a little added spice with ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard present in the Villa dugout in his first visit to Old Trafford as a manager.
This fixture comes a week after United suffered their first loss under Ralf Rangnick, where United looked very disjointed and poor in every area of the pitch, making this victory in the cup a very important game, with it mostly being the most realistic chance of silverware available this season.
The performances recently have made club captain Harry Maguire come out in the press stating that the current form and performances can’t continue at that this game vs Aston Villa is important to start gathering momentum.
Usually in the cup United rotate in the 3rd round, with the team looking very disjointed in recent weeks, there may not be room to rotate, with the players clearly not playing the way Rangnick would like them to and team cohesion looking poor, large rotation may not be the best idea for this game.
A positive against Wolves was the return of Phil Jones with a solid performance at center-back, making a claim for a spot in the line-up against Wolves, with Harry Maguire unlikely to feature with injury, Eric Bailly away at AFCON and Victor Lindelof only just returning after his stint out with covid-19.
Earlier in the season when Villa came to Old Trafford, they came away with a 1-0 victory, a late goal by Kortney Hause, followed by an even later penalty miss by Bruno Fernandes gave United their first Premier League loss of the season.
Since then both teams have changed their manager, after five straight losses, Villa sacked Dean Smith and hired Steven Gerrard, and since his appointment, his side has won four and lost five, three of which were to the top three.
Under Gerrard Villa have looked better as a team, they defend very well and look for quick counter-attacks, getting a lot of players forward, which could cause United problems if they continue to look as open as they have done under Rangnick, with young midfielder Jacob Ramsey being the one to watch out for after impressing under new management.
Thus far Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 hasn’t worked well in attack, with players not used to the formation and where to be, this game vs Villa is a good game if Rangnick wanted to experiment with a new formation which the players may be more used to and be more productive with.
Maguire is still a doubt for this game, with Rangnick saying he hasn’t trained this week. But, MUTV clips made sure that he trained yesterday. He also confirmed that Paul Pogba will be out for at least another month with his injury, whereas Anthony Martial will still be missing with him looking for a move away from the club and Eric Bailly is away at AFCON.
Gerrard has had a boost for this game, with striker Ollie Watkins and defender Tyrone Mings being made available for this game, with former United player Ashley Young having ‘an outside chance’ of featuring. Villa are without Leon Bailey and Marvelous Nakamba with injuries, whilst Bertrand Traore and and Trezeguet away at AFCON.