Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United : Ugly but invaluable points on the road for United [Match report]
Cloudy overhead conditions greeted the players as they walked gracefully out of the tunnel to the deafening noise of excitement from home and traveling fans at Villa Park for Aston Villa's first home game of the season against Manchester United.
Louis Van Gaal kept Sergio Romero in goal ahead of David de Gea and Adnan Januzaj was picked ahead of Ashley Young on the flank, Tim Sherwood handed home debut to Jordan Ayew while last week hero Rudy Gestede kept his place on the bench.
Manchester United are unbeaten against Aston Villa since 1997, the home side had it all to do to turn around the unwanted statistics that also had United beaten Villa more than any side else in cumulative fixtures.
The script played out beautifully from the start, the slim win was inevitable, United could have gone a goal up earlier had Schneiderlin's header off a Memphis Depay cross been well directed.
The game opened up afterwards and Adnan Januzaj picked a pass from Juan Mata and buried it at the first time of asking for the visitors' lead.
#BPL | #AVFC 0-1 #MUFC FT @adnanjanuzaj had the perfect return to the team. Courtesy: SkySports pic.twitter.com/QycEY4vc34— fanatix (@therealfanatix) August 14, 2015
The rest of the first half was played with caution by both sides, low intensity and obvious fear of losing possession and being caught out was at play.
Tim Sherwood brought in Rudy Gestede to replace a relatively ineffective Scott Sinlair in the 59th minute and the former almost made an instant impact but for timely Smalling intervention.
Louis Van Gaal returned the substitution favours on the hour mark as the goal scorer was shipped out for Ander Herrera who was making his second substitute appearance of the season in as many games, and Bastian Scweinsterger for Michael Carrick.
The game was locked down as the few chances that were muscled out were blown wide, Jordan Ayew saw yellow first before Ander Herrera got very lucky for only receiving a yellow for a serious lunge on Rudy Gestede in the 74th minute.
United with this win are in better shape ahead of their midweek Champions league clash with Belgian outfit Club Brugge.
Ashley Young, who came on late for Memphis Depay should be started, his energy on the flanks is largely needed as United now resort to crosses, the Villa game produced more crosses than every other game played already and one can only wonder why when the men upfront are only few inches away from the turf.
Nothing taken away from Manchester United, though it wasn't pretty but it's three valuable points forward for the Red Devils who now have a momentum to build on.
Match report by