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Preview: Manchester United vs. Aston Villa – Prediction, Team News, Lineups

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Four days on from putting the Red Devils to the sword in the Premier League, Aston Villa will renew hostilities with Manchester United at Old Trafford for Thursday’s EFL Cup third-round match.

Unai Emery kicked off his Villa Park reign with a 3 – 1 win over Erik ten Hag’s side at the weekend, and the Spaniard knows a thing or two about progressing in knockout competitions.

Five-time winners of the EFL Cup – most recently in the 2016-17 season under Jose Mourinho – Man United have since reached the semi-finals twice and been eliminated from the third round twice, falling at this stage to another claret side in West Ham United last term.

Returning to Old Trafford should bring with it a greater sense of defensive resilience for the Red Devils, who have kept an impressive five clean sheets on the bounce at home, as well as winning each of their last three in front of their own fans in all tournaments.

On the other hand, Man United have lost each of their last three EFL Cup games at the Theatre of Dreams, and there is no reason for Villa fans to believe that lightning cannot strike twice after Sunday’s remarkable performance.

Emery, the serial Europa League winner who also made it as far as the Champions League semi-finals with Villarreal, has highlighted his ambitions to win silverware with Aston Villa, so no shreds of complacency should come into play for the Lions at Old Trafford.

Manchester United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Dalot, Martinez, Maguire, Malacia; Fred, McTominay; Elanga, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial

Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; Kamara, McGinn, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Buendia

While Villa can certainly take huge confidence from Sunday’s result, Man United’s stellar defensive streak at home coupled with the visitors’ shortcomings on the road should make this a much more competitive affair.

With changes expected on both ends, we would not be surprised to see a score draw come the end of the 90 minutes, and Villa could very well suffer a second successive penalty-shootout exit in the EFL Cup as Ten Hag’s side advance to round four.

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