United’s form is so good at Villa Park that, sometimes, reporters even go as far as describing it as United’s second home. Indeed, Villa’s last win over United at their home stadium was recorded in 1995. If you want to go further than that, cup ties there – against Villa or otherwise – have also been good to United.
And after seeing Saturday’s teams, on paper it must be added, you couldn’t see that changing. Injury problems for Villa resulted in their midfield being inexperienced, with one making his debut.
But as we know, games aren’t won on paper and this game was no different. The first half failed to really get going as a spectacle, with Villa the better of the two teams. Barry Bannan, one of Villa’s young midfielders, played a great ball down the inside of Brown for Downing, whose ball in was cleared by Ferdinand. United’s best chance of the first half came to Berbatov. The Bulgarian could well have been offside, but when he wasn’t flagged his left-footed shot was scuffed well wide. It was a chance that really should have been scored.
Another chance came when a well worked free-kick by Nani and Evra led to the latter in the box at the left hand-side. He fizzed a fantastic ball across the six yard box, but none of his team-mates were on the same wavelength to make the run to knock the ball into the goal.
Albrighton was a danger and putting the defence under pressure with his direct running and dangerous crosses. Van Der Sar was drawn into making a save from a Young shot, while Ferdinand could only deflect a Downing shot wide.
Half-time couldn’t come soon enough, but it certainly didn’t do United any good. It just got worse.
United couldn’t say they hadn’t been warned in the first-half, and they received another three warnings in this half. Downing’s inviting ball curved over to the far post, where Albrighton got onto the end of it but his header could only fly across goal and narrowly wide. From a corner, Collins got up highest and his header crashed against the crossbar, while a couple of minutes later Agbonlahor could only shoot onto the post after United failed to clear.
Their performance merited a goal, and it finally came after 72 minutes. A swift counter attacked resulted in Agbonlahor sliding the ball towards Young who was bundled over by Brown. The referee whistled for a penalty, and Young made no mistake when he blasted the ball in from the spot.
After finally getting the goal, they got another four minutes later. Another counter attack, Downing’s cross into the box and Albrighton’s tap in made it 2-0.
United looked dead and buried, and Fergie responded by replacing Berbatov and Hernandez with Macheda and Obertan. His changes worked wonders when United found their way back into the game. United were finally putting Villa under pressure, and Fletcher’s good work just outside the box was followed by him laying the ball off to Macheda. A first-time shot rocketed into the net, and it was game-on.
Four minutes later after more pressure, United got their equalised. After a corner was cleared by Villa, the ball found it’s way to Nani who whipped a bending cross to the far post where Vidic’s diving header found it’s way across goal into the far corner.
At this stage, United looked the team who would snatch a winner, but Obertan’s shot after he dribbled his way through was saved by the face of Friedel.
Unbeaten record in tact, but another draw and more points dropped away from home. After the performance though, you could say it was a point gained.
Best Moment: Vidic’s equaliser
Worst Moment: Albrighton’s second
Man of the Match: Nemanja Vidic