Report: Villa Let 2 Goal Lead Slip In Old Trafford Collapse

unai emery old trafford aston villa manchester united

A lack of composure. Injuries and suspensions. Naivety in the season of nativity.

Just when you think the ghost of Villa past has been banished, it returns to rear its head once more.

The seasonal metaphors shall end here.

There is much to unpick after what can only be described as a collapse at Old Trafford. Villa went in at halftime sitting proud with a 2-0 lead, and our hosts looked utterly beleaguered.

It will remain a mystery, with United being heckled by the home support and their manager clinging to his tenure, why we didn’t finish the job. It was as though a switch was flicked and we stopped playing. Conscious or unconscious, it opened the door to a total turnaround in the match.

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Villa had crafted the goals with relative ease in truth. A McGinn free-kick from the right floated into the net as the defence and keeper became preoccupied with Leon Bailey wandering in an offside position.

Shortly after, a dangerous header back inside the box from Lenglet was coolly flicked home by Leander Leander Dendoncker. There could only be one winner, surely?

There had been warning signs, with United repeatedly testing our high line with mixed success. The strategy was deployed with greater ferocity as the game played out and reaped rewards as our luck and quality wore thin.

There were moments of fortune too, with a marginal offside decision ruling out a United goal and a last-gasp Martinez tackle halting Rashford when through on goal.

Alejandro Garnacho put in an inspired and tireless display, terrorising both Carlos and Lenglet. The Villa centre halves were unable to cope and it showed. The Argentine took his chances, scoring twice in quick succession, albeit with the aid of a deflection for one.

Then came the inevitable. Rasmus Højlund, much derided after 15 games without a goal, naturally found the ball drop to him to volley home the winner in off the post. The Dane channelled his inner Forlan/Macheda just for us, typically.

Football games are lost, it’s part of the game, but given United’s recent plight and our strong foothold in this match, it certainly leaves a bitter taste.

Yes, we were missing Torres, Tielemans and Cash, but it doesn’t explain quite how badly we lost our way given our obvious advantage in the game itself. That’s a puzzle for Emery, visibly pained on the sidelines as the defeat panned out, to solve.

And so it’s another case of de ja vu I’m afraid, but it shouldn’t detract from how far we’ve progressed this season. It must be learned from if nothing else.

It is however a reminder of the need for consistency, quality and ruthlessness if we are to make challenging at the top of the division a reality. These attributes don’t just come from the game-plan, but also from the personnel in the squad and their capabilities to deploy them.

Let’s hope that that second half display is confined to just this fixture and no other for the remainder of the campaign. Up next, Burnley.