Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has praised Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro ahead of the two teams’ meeting.
Villa will host United in the Premier League on Sunday, February 11. The fixture could have a massive bearing on the top-four race as the visitors currently sit sixth, eight points behind the hosts, who are fourth with 46 points from 23 matches.
Ahead of the match, Emery explained that Erik ten Hag’s side are slowly finding their groove and named some of their key players. He said at his pre-match press conference (as quoted by the Mirror):
“We must impose our own against one of the best teams in the Premier League. They have spent a lot of money trying to increase their level with their signings.
“The coach is getting balance with their structure. Casemiro is important to them. Rasmus Hojlund is getting goals and playing with more confidence. Alejandro Garnacho is in a good moment and Bruno Fernandes is a very competitive player.
“I’m excited and motivated for everything we will face – that’s why I’m reaching out and trying to connect with our supporters – because we will need them.”
Emery also emphasized the importance of the match, acknowledging that Manchester United are contenders to finish above their current position on the table:
“Each match is special and there are key moments in them. The match before this mattered and the matches we play afterwards will be important.
“But we need to use this to play for six points. We are in front of them. They were, and are contenders more than we are to get into the top five. Even if we lose, we will be in front of them – but they are feeling stronger now, confident and good.
“It’s going to be difficult – for Manchester United also – because they need to get points against us. They want to be closer to us. Of course, there are 38 matches but this is special, a key match.”
Aston Villa will enter this contest on the back of a disappointing 3-1 home loss to Chelsea in their FA Cup fourth-round replay. Manchester United, meanwhile, beat West Ham United 3-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League in their last fixture.
Manchester United clawed back from 2 goals down to win the reverse fixture against Aston Villa
This will be the second meeting between the two teams in the league this season after their clash at Old Trafford on December 26.
On that occasion, Aston Villa raced to a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from John McGinn (21′) and Leander Dendoncker (26′). However, two of the players Unai Emery named in his pre-match press conference came to Manchester United‘s rescue.
Alejandro Garnacho got a goal back for the hosts in the 59th minute before leveling things up 12 minutes later. Rasmus Hojlund then scored the winner in the 82nd minute to complete the comeback.
Bruno Fernandes also starred for United, recording four key passes, two successful dribbles and a shot on target. He also won eight duels and two fouls, while making three tackles, three interceptions and two clearances as well.
Casemiro notably missed that contest due to injury, but has been in good form since returning in late January.