Manchester United take on Aston Villa at Old Trafford on News Years’ Day in a 8pm kick-off.
United can move level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after nine games unbeaten in the Premier League, while Villa can potentially move a point behind their forthcoming opponents into third in the table depending on how Everton fare against West Ham earlier in the day.
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Man Utd are 8/11 favourites to win the match, with the draw and a Villa win both priced at 16/5.
Villa have hugely impressed me this season, winning five and losing just one of their seven matches on the road, so Villa on the double chance market certainly appeals at 23/20 (Unibet).
In terms of our Bet Builder, I’m happy to back both teams to receive 1+ card each given this has landed in 12 of United’s 15 PL games this season and in 13 of Villa’s 14.
Villa are by far the most fouled team in the league, largely due to the irrepressible Jack Grealish, with United ranking 7th for fouls in the league. I’d be quite surprised if the Red Devils do not receive 2+, to be honest, with Villa’s opponents doing so in 10 of 14 matches, but will play safe with Michael Oliver in charge.
The official is averaging three yellow cards per game this season, but has shown both teams 1+ card each in his last five PL matches, so I’ll trust him to deliver again.
Given Villa have earned 4+ corners in their last 11 PL matches, I’m happy to back them to earn 3+ at Old Trafford. United have conceded at least this amount in 12 of their 15 matches this season.
To bring our Bet Builder above evens, I’m also going to back Villa to score. This is probably the most risky selection in my mind given United have kept four clean sheets at home this season, but Villa have scored at least once in all seven of their away games, and I fancy them to continue that run against a United defence which never fully convinces me:
We’ve been frustratingly close to a bigger priced winner in our last two matches (one Villa card off in their game against Chelsea, and just a Liverpool goal away in their match vs Newcastle), so if you fancy another punt here, my selection is BTTS, 2+ United cards, 1+ Villa card, and 3+ first half Villa corners at 13/2.
I’ve noticed Villa have a tendency to start games in blistering fashion, with them earning three corners in the first half at Stamford Bridge on Monday. Indeed, the Villains average 3.36 first half corners per game this season, with Man Utd conceding an average of 2.50 per first half, so I’ll chance my arm at another fast start from Dean Smith’s side.
Elsewhere, he’s not a player I generally back in the cards market as he has a knack of avoiding them, but I’ve chanced my arm at a Scott McTominay card at a huge 7/1 price.
The Scotland midfielder and Fred were both rested in the win against Wolves on Tuesday, so I expect them both to come back into the side. Right-sided central midfielders have unsurprisingly been booked on several occasions against Villa this season, with Grealish generally causing havoc from an inside-left position.
McTominay is yet to be booked in the league this season, but he is averaging 1.8 tackles and 1.3 fouls per game. In the Champions League, meanwhile, Solskjaer deployed the Scot against Neymar – one of the few players in world football who is more proficient at dribbling and earning fouls than Grealish – with McTominay making 10 tackles and eight fouls across both clashes, picking up a booking and fortunate not to receive another in the process.
I can foresee a similar game-plan against Grealish, so along similar lines 11/8 for 3+ tackles, 7/2 for 4+ and 22/1 for 6+ tackles are all very good prices. McTominay made seven in the home tie against PSG, and six against Leicester in his last start on Boxing Day. With Aaron-Wan Bissaka making 3+ tackles in his last five PL starts, 16/1 looks a big price for him and McTominay to land 10+ between them (all Sky Bet).
Other candidates for United would be Aaron Wan-Bissaka at 11/2, Fred and Eric Bailly at 7/2 (all bet365). Villa have three players (John McGinn, Matt Targett and Grealish) one booking away from a one-match suspension, so I’d probably lean towards Douglas Luiz 11/4 (Unibet) or Matty Cash 4/1 (bet365) as Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford will undoubtedly cause them problems in transition.
Lastly, one man who is in blistering form is Anwar El Ghazi, who has five goals in his last five games. With the forward on penalties and Oliver’s tally of nine this season more than any other PL referee this season, 7/2 (Betfair) looks a big price for El Ghazi to score. He’s 15/2 (Bet Victor) to score a penalty, with Fernandes 15/4 in this market. It’s 41/1 for both players to score a penalty, with Oliver awarding both Arsenal and Chelsea one each in his last match.