Manchester United have tied points with the Premier League leaders Liverpool With a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on New Year’s Day.
Anthony Martial gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team a first-half lead at Old Trafford, after Tyrone Mings failed to clear a cross from Aaron Wam-Bissaka.
Villa knocked out the fight after the break with Jack Grealish, causing problems on the right wing for United, and it was the Englishman who took advantage of the chaos in the home defense to equalize for Bertrand Traore.
But United were back on top within three minutes when the dependable Bruno Fernandes hit the penalty spot, which Paul Pogba won, and they held out against Villa to collect the three points.
Here are five talking points after United kicked off 2021 in style.
The title race continues
United are now in good shape and real in the title race, having tied points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have a much better goal difference but have lost points in their last two games, while winning is the best United are doing at the moment.
United away from Burnley In their next league match – five days before the current champion is scheduled to play at Anfield.
With the Red Devils winning four of the last five matches in the Premier League, the showdown at Anfield could have massive implications for the title race.
The main role of Bogba
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found a different role for Paul Pogba as speculation continues about the midfielder’s future.
Pogba played in a deeper role in midfield against Wolves In the middle of the week, he struggled to impose himself on the match as United left it late to clinch the winner.
But he was decisive in the victory over Villa after starting on the left side of the Red Devils’ attack, with Marcus Rashford moving to the right wing.
The change in lineup was a key factor in the opening game in the first half for Manchester United.
Pogba beat his leg with a superb flick before finding Rashford on the right, as striker Aaron Wan-Bissaka fired a cross for Marcial to head the net.
The French midfielder then played a key role in second place for United, receiving a penalty kick within two minutes of his team conceding the equalizer.
The defensive problems have not gone away
United have suffered from defensive accidents this season and those problems have not gone away despite a string of good results recently.
Solskjaer’s team made things a lot more difficult than it should have been when they conceded the equalizer an hour earlier.
With United’s players trying to delay a free kick from Villa, Wan-Bissaka left Greelish on an acre, and the midfielder showed why he wanted to find Traore with a precise cross pass.
Fortunately for United, there are always goals in this team with the likes of Rashford, Fernandez and Martial.
Grealish shows his class
Grillish’s cross goal for Traore wasn’t the first time United’s defense in search of an equalizer.
The Villa star grabbed the match from his neck early in the second half as he looked to get his team back in the match.
Minutes before he installed Traore’s level, he made one of his prolific runs on the right wing of Manchester United and created a similar opportunity for Ole Watkins.
The Villa striker did well to head up the goal, and David De Gea gave an amazing reaction only to flip over the crossbar.
Grillish did not finish after Villa’s equalizer, and had several more opportunities as United regained the lead.
Incidentally, De Gea was playing his 327th Premier League match – putting him fifth on the United list ever and breaking the record set as Roy Kane in most Red Devils Division matches by a non-British player.
Lingard is on the bench
Going to the villa match, Jesse Lingard didn’t play in Premier League Since the last day of last season.
The 28-year-old was linked to a break in the transfer window in January, as his career at Old Trafford was halted after he showed early promise.
It remains to be seen whether Lingard’s involvement on the bench is an indication that Solskjaer is ready to reintegrate into his first-team plans – or whether the manager hopes for a chance to put the former England man in the store window for a loan transfer.
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