Steven Gerrard refused to blame the defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup third round on VAR and stated his side are ‘nearly men’.
Gerrard made two changes from the side that lost to Brentford last week with Tyrone Mings returning from suspension and Ollie Watkins from Covid-19.
The game got off to a fast start with both sides looking strong going forward but weak at the back.
It was the home side who took their early opportunity with a goal on 8 minutes. Midfielder Scott McTominay glanced a header past Emi Martinez from a brilliant cross from Fred.
Despite this, Villa was unfazed and did all they could (apart from score) to get themselves back in the game. First, they were denied by the woodwork when Watkins turned Victor Lindelof, shot towards goal beating David De-Gea but the ball crashed off the inside of the crossbar.
Then Emi Buendia, who arguably had his best game in a Villa shirt, beat 2-3 Man Utd players before shooting from the edge of the box but De Gea was in fine form to deny him.
Villa thought they were back on level terms just after the interval. Danny Ings prodded home Ezri Konsa’s header from a free-kick but a prolonged VAR check denied Gerrard’s men.
Moments later, Villa thought they were level again but this time it was ruled out through offside. Watkins got on the end of a Danny Ings ball to slot home but the latter was ruled offside.
Man Utd will face Middlesbrough at home in the next round of the FA Cup but both sides will meet again on Saturday at Villa Park in the Premier League.
- The defending for Man Utd’s goal was not good enough. Far too many times over the last few season’s lapses of concentration have cost Villa and it was no different here. Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings will both feel they could have done better.
- Sloppiness – At times Villa were sloppy last night giving the ball away cheaply, allowing Man Utd to counter-attack. The style and press is much better for all to see but passing is a basic requirement in football and we must get this right.
- VAR – We were playing Manchester United. If it wasn’t a penalty it was always going to be a VAR decision wasn’t it? I know Gerrard didn’t want to blame last nights defeat on VAR but I certainly wanted to make a point of it. It took nearly four minutes to make the decision. They looked for offside and foul eventually ruling against Villa, as every Villa fan knew they would. And therein lies the problem, every Villa fan knew they would. There is so much talk about Covid cases and integrity in the game right now. How can there be integrity when the big sides are always getting the decisions? The rules state if it’s clear and obvious – clear and obvious doesn’t take nearly four minutes to clear up!
- VAR in the FA Cup – Alan Shearer brought this up last night on the live coverage on BBC. Once again integrity is brought up. How can some teams have VAR and not others in the FA Cup? It is simply unfair. It should be all or nothing and makes a sham out of what is a great competition.
- Matt Targett – Although the full-back grew into the game and certainly looked much better in the second half, he looks seriously low on confidence. You don’t become a bad player overnight. So much has changed at Villa over the last 6 months so I cant put my finger on it but something isn’t right with our Player of the Season from last year.
- Steven Gerrard called us nearly men. I think it shows how much we have come on, certainly under Gerrard to go to Old Trafford and be disappointed with a defeat. I felt last nights performance was much better than our win there earlier this campaign.
- The high press is a joy to watch and last night we were shown how effective it can be. On more than one occasion we won the ball off Man United in high positions. This will only get better aswell.
- Nearly is not good enough! – Gerrard refused to blame VAR and instead stated his side didn’t quite reach his high demands. Villa had plenty of chances to put the game to bed and failed to do so. This is very refreshing to hear going from what we have heard from previous management.
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Saturday, 15th January 2022
Villa will want payback after last nights defeat and will take great confidence in their performance. If they are more clinical, three points are certainly achievable.