How good was that, getting a win at Old Trafford against twelve men Man Utd?
It certainly doesn’t happen often and the last time it was a bit of a smash and grab.
This time though, it was totally deserved as we looked the better side for long periods.
It was an incredibly nervy game to watch, which is usually the case when we play them, but looking back now, I don’t think we were seriously tested much and Martinez never had more than bread and butter type stuff to cope with.
Greenwood looked a consistent threat for them and he worried me every time he got the ball, but even so, he was mostly reduced to long range shooting.
The biggest concern before the game was of course Ronaldo. But the truth is I’m struggling to think of anything he did at all. So much so, that I totally forgot about him. Did someone have him in their pocket or was he just ineffective? I don’t know, but I’m glad of it.
Good things first then and there were quite a few of them. John McGinn was back to his old self and did the work of two players. He was given a tough time and seemed to be targeted for a bit of treatment, but apart from one rush of blood to the head, where he swung a leg at one of their players, he took it pretty much in his stride and dished it out too, when required. An outstanding performance and probably a MOTM one too.
Matty Cash gave Luke shaw a torrid time and when Shaw went off, Cash still ruled the roost down the right. An eye catching performance from him too.
And Douglas Luiz impressed me too. He worked hard, anchoring the midfield and spreading the play quite nicely.
Overall, the team played really well and I think what won the game was the sheer amount of hard work and pressing.
Utd just couldn’t cope with us at times, especially when we quickly switched the play and made full use of the large pitch.
We played 3 or 5 at the back and I feel it worked well today, as more often than not, we just crowded the Utd attack out. So I’d say Dean Smith called it spot on today and deserves any plaudits that might come his way.
What particularly pleased me was the way we played. We took it to them from the off and gave them very little time to compose themselves with our quick play to feet. It doesn’t always come off though and that leads me to the downsides of today.
Ollie Watkins was shocking today, it has to be said. In fact, that had to be his worst performance in Aston Villa colours. His touch is very poor and in a game where it needed to be sharp, I felt it was severely lacking. He was also slow in his thinking as well, as he was caught offside by not getting back quick enough. Indeed, it happened one time and denied Danny Ings a definite penalty after he was fouled.
I absolutely love Watkins, but after today, I’m starting to understand some of the criticism that is levelled at him.
He had two very straightforward chances that he really should have buried, but didn’t. I hope his form returns.
I thought Ings was anonymous again. I don’t doubt his workrate, but surely we only got him for one reason, which is to put the ball in the net? Yet something just doesn’t feel right. Has he had more than a handful of chances in the time he’s been at the Villa? I don’t think so and I’m actually struggling to think of more than 3. I’m really not sure what that says, but it feels like a player wasted to me.
And then Ramsey. I won’t go on about it, but I felt he didn’t get involved enough either. I don’t know, perhaps I just wasn’t seeing it and it’s surprising, given that I thought we mostly dominated the midfield. I really need to watch him more closely, but apart from the slip when he had a great chance, I rarely noticed him.
No worries though, I get that he’s young and you can’t expect MOTM performances every week.
Ultimately, what matters most is of course the result. It’s something I always harp on about. But the performance is also important too.
And the fact is that we’ve performed well in our last three games.
We lost to Chelsea, but even Tuchel said we caused them lots of problems. We beat Everton 3-0 after a lacklustre first half which we turned around in the second half with a fully deserved victory.They were on a roll too, remember.
And now we’ve won today, with our forwards not really firing.
So that’s 3 overall good performances against at least two top clubs and an at least mid-table one.
Things are looking very decent if we can keep it up now.
Going on to the more controversial stuff, Man Utd got the usual penalty. But the truth is, I think it probably was one. The superb news is that Fernandes put it way over. I actually had a feeling Martinez would have saved it anyway. How good is that when you have such faith in your goalie?
And Mike Dean was useless in seemingly ignoring lots of fouls, some of which were just plain dirty.
Fortunately, I thought he let a few of our fouls go too.
Well, I said it was controversial stuff and I’m sure some of you won’t agree.
Whatever, we got the win, so I’m savouring the moment with a few beers, content that we stuffed Man Utd. On their own patch.