Clear signs

As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, Graeme Bailey looks back on at Man United's remarkable 3-2 win at Aston Villa.

Last Updated: 11/11/12 7:45pm

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The rest of the Premier League will have been watching with a resigned feeling as Manchester United claimed victory.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men were languishing at 2-0 against an Aston Villa side which, on paper, should not have been a match for them.

But, as you see so often in the Premier League, if you turn up assuming you can win then, before you know it, you have lost.

Fortunately for United, they have spirit and never-say-die attitude seeping through their pores.

Sometimes they do need the Ferguson helping hand, and his decision to take off Ashley Young at half-time was inspired with his replacement Javier Hernandez claiming the match-ball.


The headline news from Aston Villa was Enda Stevens given his first Premier League start at left-back due to injuries. Despite returning to the squad Karim El Ahmadi had to make do with a place on the bench as Ashley Westwood started again.

Manchester United brought back Chris Smalling in central defence to partner Rio Ferdinand, whilst Paul Scholes got the start in central midfield.


Aston Villa played a back four with Westwood holding in front - with Christian Benteke as the focal point, Stephen Ireland, Barry Bannan and Gabriel Agbonlahor provided excellent support and United struggled to cope.

United player a similar system but with Scholes and Michael Carrick playing more as a pair. First-half Young failed to fire and with Hernandez on and Wayne Rooney dropping wide, that proved a master-stroke from Ferguson.


El Ahmadi, Brett Holman and Fabian Delph were all late introductions for Villa as they looked to hold onto something, which unfortunately for them they did not.

What more can be said, but Ferguson's decision to bring on Hernandez was inspired as he won the game for United. Tom Cleverley and Anderson's late introductions also benefited their push for the win.


Kevin Friend did not have many huge decisions to make, he allowed Villa's opener which United had some issue with.

He did give one foul against Scholes when his loose ball freed Benteke - which looked a bit dubious.

Main men

Villa's big men stepped up, Ron Vlaar did well - but it was their attacking force of Ireland, Benteke and Agbonlahor that stood out.

With those three, they possess guile, skill, pace and power and United struggled to cope with them in full flow.

United had Robin van Persie and Rooney together again but the lack of service was a real issue. Ferdinand, Scholes and Young had off days by their usual high standards and Hernandez spared a number of blushes.

Looking ahead

Man United could look back to this match as a key moment. This showed they lack none of their previous spirit which has taken them to so many titles.

United will be worried by conceding but if they can carry on winning without being top class then that is the hallmark of a top side.

Aston Villa remain all too close to the bottom three and need major work to keep their heads afloat.

Paul Lambert was very happy with the display and effort, but sometimes you need more and whether this Villa side have that remains to be seen.

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