Manchester United left Villa Park with all three points to continue this new year resurgence that has given them a fighting chance of sneaking into the Champions League places.
There was quite a lot to like about this performance, albeit different from the win against West Ham. Manchester United showed grit and strong personality from being pegged back to get the winner through Scott McTominay’s bullet header. Where earlier in the season, United would have capitulated once they concede one, it was nice to see United finally get a win away from home against the current top 9.
Here are the player ratings from the weekend’s win:
Andre Onana (7/10):
Although he did not keep a clean sheet, Onana made many saves keeping out Watkins on a few occasions from point blank range and pulling off a great acrobatic save from John McGinn in the first half. Making 8 saves in total, he really contributed to Man United taking all three points home.
Luke Shaw (6/10):
Dove-tailed well with Rashford in the first half and was good defensively, it was unfortunate he had to go off at half-time. Aston Villa really targeted that wing when Shaw came off for Lindelof, who had a hard time dealing with Bailey in that second half. Ten Hag has stated that it was a precautionary substitute so let's hope he is back for Luton next week.
Harry Maguire (7/10):
Came in for Martinez and played quite well and got on the end of most things, especially from attacking corners in the first half - one of which lead to the assist for Hojlund’s opener. He won 100% of his aerial duels (7/7), tackles (4/4) and 4/5 of ground duels, Maguire rightly deserves to be a contender for man of the match and looks like the best partner for Varane on the left hand side of defence moving forward which will boost his chances of starting for England come summer.
Raphael Varane (6/10):
Dealt quite well with Watkins for the entire match, Rolls Royce of a defender who always brings a sense of calm to United's defence. Kept and moved the ball efficiently, he is player who United really can't afford to go down for any significant period of time or it's back to Jonny Evans or Lindelof as an alternative option.
Diogo Dalot (7/10):
Another contender for man of the match, tirelessly up and down that whole right side. He won 100% of his tackles, and created the winner with a wicked ball into the box that Scott McTominay just had to get his head onto. Surprising that this is only his second assist of the season and the only criticism of his is that he gets himself into really good crossing positions but needs to execute more often.
A good steady performance, should never have gotten a yellow card and was visibly incensed. Mainoo and himself struggled a bit in the first half with Jacob Ramsey picking up positions behind the midfield two, but it is evident that United are much better team with Casemiro in it with his winning mentality at all costs.
Kobbie Mainoo (6/10):
A good performance again from Mainoo, he was always trying to get on the ball and progressively move the ball forward with 9/13 final third passes completed. He also, had 6 ball recoveries, 4 chances created and 4 ground duels won. All action midfield performance and this will be what we see from him going forward, he shouldn't be shoe horned into a defensive midfield player because he can really do it all.
Alejandro Garnacho (6/10):
Average performance from the Argentine, he got into really good positions but his final shot or cross let him down today. That doesn't take away from the excitement United fans get when they see him running at the opposition defence ominously, and the fact that Ten Hag withdrew Rashford before him and not for the first time shows the trust that the manager is starting to show in him.
Bruno Fernandes (6/10):
Good performance from the captain, although he did not get a direct assist or goal contribution. He did create 8 chances today and when Rashford came off Bruno went to right midfield and did not sherk his responsibilites helping Dalot defend and actually putting in some timely tackles in dangerous positions for Villa.
Marcus Rashford (6/10):
Just like Garnacho, Rashford had an average game today. He did have one highlight putting Cash on his backside before getting his cross blocked by their defender. Apart from that it was quite a frustrating afternoon for Rashford and he was substituted at an important part of the game where I think he struggled not having Luke Shaw backing him up on that left wing.
Rasmus Højlund (7/10):
The kid just can't stop scoring can he? He has now scored in 5 Premier League games in a row and is second youngest player to ever do this in the Premier League, Anelka being the only player younger than him to reach that feat. Apart from his goals that are now coming more regularly, Hojlund is fast becoming a fan favourite due to his strong mentality and tireless running always given his team mates an option and one thing he has shown is that he will never short change the fans with effort which rightly or wrongly has been directed at the likes of Martial and Rashford in the past.
Scott McTominay (6/10):
Another player with an elite mentality, whether he plays 1 minute or 90 he tries to do what he can to help the team. He came on with the score level and basically got into the box to support Hojlund and got himself another goal from that position. That is now 7 goals in the league (top goalscorer for Man United) and his 4th off the bench which is pretty handy for Ten Hag to call on in situations where you are level or down to a team and you need a goal.
Victor Lindelof (5/10):
Had a torrid time dealing with Bailey and was probably relieved when Unai Emery took him off early. Although, he was playing out of position at left back he gave away a couple of sloppy balls that could have proven costly.
Jonny Evans & Sofyan Amrabat: N/A
Erik Ten Hag (7/10):
Will be happy with the teams opening 20 minutes and how the team responded to the setback of conceding in the second half. His substitution bring Mctominay on and playing him closer to Hojlund was fruitful and got us the winner. Winning 3 Premier League on the bounce can only give the manager and the team confidence and from now until the summer Ten Hag will feel like his on audition to keep his job beyond summer from the Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS.
Man of The Match: There are some notable standouts like Dalot and Maguire but I am going to give the award to Andre Onana. One of his better performances in a Manchester United shirt and while the game was still 1-0 he made numerous saves to keep us on top, he was also good with his feet and came out several times to sweeper keep dangerous situations for Aston Villa. Hopefully, United fans can get used to more of these type of performances and he proves that the shirt is not too heavy for him.