Manchester United-Aston Villa Preview
Steven Gerrard believes Aston Villa have made two statement signings with the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne, as they prepare to face Manchester United for the second time in five days.
Villa lost 1-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup on Monday, though were impressive for large spells and had two goals disallowed.
Gerrard has bolstered his ranks with the signings of his former Liverpool team-mate Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona, and left-back Digne, who signed on Thursday for a reported £23million from Premier League rivals Everton.
Coutinho is not fully fit but has trained, and Gerrard said: "It's great to have him, he's been smiling away for a few days. It's my job to get him settled and get him enjoying his football.
"I'm sure there's a lot of football left in this boy, he's a fantastic talent and we're lucky to have him. At the right time, he'll be unleashed."
Of Digne, Gerrard added: "It shows the intent from the top of the club all the way down.
"We're delighted to have Lucas with his pedigree, a French international who's got big Premier League experience, he's been to high-class clubs and won.
"Both footballers make this group stronger, better and more experienced. It shows the direction we want to go in."
Ralf Rangnick, meanwhile, is hoping to have Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones back after the quartet missed Monday's game.
"I think they will be available," Rangnick said. "They only trained yesterday for the first time, Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday.
"We have to wait for the final session this afternoon but as it seems right now, they should be available for tomorrow."
Aston Villa - Lucas Digne
While Coutinho is more likely to need a bit of time to get up to speed, Digne will surely come straight in to Villa's XI, even though he has not played since December 1 after falling out of favour with Rafael Benitez. Since he made his Everton debut in 2018, only Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided more assists or created more chances among Premier League defenders than the 28-year-old.
Manchester United - Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has been involved in 11 goals in his nine Premier League starts against Villa (eight goals, three assists). It's the most goals he's scored (eight) and been involved in (11) against a specific opponent in the competition.
- Bruno Fernandes has taken a penalty in all four of his Premier League games against Villa, scoring the first three but missing in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford this season. No player (or team) has ever taken a penalty in five consecutive games against a specific opponent in the competition.
- Villa are winless in their last 22 home league games against Manchester United (D7 L15) since a 3-1 victory in August 1995. It's the longest winless home run one side has had against another in English Football League history.
- In all competitions, United are unbeaten in their last 22 away games against Aston Villa (W17 D5) since a 3-0 loss in the League Cup in October 1999. In English football history, only Liverpool (23 vs Sunderland between 1959 and 2002) have had a longer unbeaten away run against an opponent when both sides have been played in the top four tiers at the time.
- United have won 299 Premier League away games, and would be the first side to reach 300 in the competition with victory here. No side has won more Premier League games (37) or away games (17) in the competition's history than the Red Devils have against Villa.
- As a player, Gerrard ended on the winning side in 10 Premier League games against Man Utd, a joint-record along with Nicolas Anelka, John Terry and Petr Cech. However, including caretakers, only one of the last 18 managers has won their first Premier League match against the Red Devils, with Mikel Arteta winning with Arsenal in January 2020.
Updated January 14, 2022