Six things we learned as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2 yesterday – Fabrizo Romano

Six things we learned as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2 yesterday – Fabrizo Romano






Six things we learned as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images


Six things we learned as Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-2

Tue 26 December 2023 22:00

Updated Tue 26 December 2023 22:26

Dan Coombs

Manchester United have beaten Aston Villa 3-2 after a dramatic night at Old Trafford. Here is a look at six things we learned…


Rasmus Hojlund scores first league goal

This is not a drill. Rasmus Hojlund finally has a Premier League goal to his name.



Ranking EVERY Premier League Club’s Transfer Business


The Danish striker scored the winner after being in the right place at the right time when a set piece dropped to him, and he instinctively lashed it in off the post.


We know he can score, because he has done it five times in the Champions League, but the last one of these came in early November, and his confidence was really beginning to look shot.


The emotion on his face when the ball hit the net showed what it meant to him, and every single Manchester United player ran over to celebrate with him.


A fully firing Hojlund can take this side to a new dimension, and it was so important for his first league goal to be a meaningful one. Let’s hope this is the start of something…


Signing out at Old Trafford with a win

This was Manchester United’s final match of 2023 at Old Trafford, before the away trip to Nottingham Forest this weekend, and it was important to take something from it.


We knew this would be a tough fixture, with Aston Villa in good form, and United playing poorly, and so it proved.



United were heading for another dismal night half an hour in, going 2-0 down early on, before gradually finding a way back into the game and taking all three points.


Alejandro Garnacho was the star with two second half goals, and another disallowed, before Hojlund’s winner. At a time when the team needed somebody to step up, the talented teenager did exactly that.


The victory temporarily takes United back up into sixth place, five points off fourth.


Alejandro Garnacho’s big night

Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Christian Eriksen and Marcus Rashford all returned to the starting line-up, changes from the preceding game against West Ham.


In the end it was one of the underperformers against the Hammers who made the difference, with Alejandro Garnacho making up for his poor finishing at the London Stadium.


This was the first time Garnacho has scored twice in a game for Manchester United’s first team, a sign of both his quality and resilience.


His tally for the season now stands at five goals, only Scott McTominay – and now Rasmus Hojlund (6) have more.


Manchester United v Aston Villa – Premier League

Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Set piece problems

Against Liverpool at Anfield, the defensive duo of Jonny Evans and Raphael Varane had looked rock solid. Not so here.


United conceded twice in the opening half an hour, both times from low set pieces which should have been cleared.


This is a team which is failing to do the basics defensively, and in this match, the absence of November’s player of the month Harry Maguire really showed.


United have had 10 different defensive partnerships this season at centre-back, which doesn’t make life easy. But they should still have done better for both of Villa’s opening goals.


The frustrating part is, United played well and were the better team for much of this game, but conceding the cheap goals gave the side a nearly impossible task against one of the league’s most in-form teams. Ten Hag’s side need to clean up their act in 2024.


Goalscoring drought ends

There was once a time at Manchester United when it did not really matter too much if the team gave away the odd cheap goal, because the dangerous attack would simply score more at the other end.


This season Manchester United’s attackers have been so poor, and at the moment, it has been a struggle to score just the once.


Before this game against Bournemouth, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and West Ham, the team had failed to score a single goal in four matches.


More than 400 minutes later, in the 59th minute of this game, Alejandro Garnacho snapped that goalless streak, pulling a goal back after a Marcus Rashford cross.


At half-time, it really had not seemed likely. Ten Hag’s side deserve credit for the way they fought back.


Ineos era begins on a high note

Ineos advisor Dave Brailsford was in attendance at Old Trafford, following on from the firm’s investment into the club being agreed earlier this week.


He will have been alarmed at the dismal showing from the team in the first half, and it’s clear Ineos have a major rebuilding job on their hands. At least the game ended on a high, kicking off the new era with a victory.


Erik ten Hag is fighting to show he deserves to stay in charge. We learned from this game that the players are still fighting for him, refusing to drift to another defeat.


This is reason for encouragement, and will buy Ten Hag time, ahead of what is hopefully a brighter 2024.


NEW: Sign up to our United In Focus WhatsApp channel


Related Topics




More in Match Coverage











a proud member of


© 2023 GRV Media Ltd. All Rights Reserved

GRV Media Ltd, 18 Mulberry Avenue, Widnes,

Cheshire, WA8 0WN

Company No. 04155089


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.