Erik ten Hag is expecting a “difficult” test against Aston Villa following the appointment of Unai Emery, who has his first game in charge on Sunday against Manchester United.
The Spaniard makes his return to the Premier League after a previous stint with Arsenal, having rebuilt his reputation with Villarreal, where he won the Europa League against United in 2020-21.
A swift impact is needed at Villa, who enter the match on the back of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Newcastle United last time out.
United, meanwhile, have enjoyed back-to-back 1-0 victories against West Ham and Real Sociedad but will need to make changes amid their packed schedule, with Ten Hag mulling over his options.
“I have to see because Aston Villa is going to be a difficult one as we don’t know. They have a new manager and I have to have a look and analyze from that game, from that team and then we have a choice,” he said.
Villa sit 16th, with Emery’s predecessor Steven Gerrard sacked due to a poor start to the season, which came on the back of plenty of investment.
But Emery is focusing on silverware on his return to England.
He said: “My dream is to win a trophy with Villa. That is my personal challenge at the beginning, and my second dream could be to play in Europe.
“But now we can think only about the next game. We are not in a good position in the table. Every match will give us a lot of information on our players and I want to check and test them.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Emiliano Buendia
Despite playing less than half of the minutes available to him in the Premier League this season (573/1170), Emiliano Buendia has created more chances than any other Aston Villa player this term (12).
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo
Against no side has Cristiano Ronaldo scored more Premier League goals than he has against Aston Villa (eight) – the Portugal star has been involved in 11 goals in his last eight starts against them in the competition (eight goals, three assists).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Including caretakers, each of the last nine managers whose first Premier League game at a club came against United has lost, with Alan Curbishley at West Ham in December 2006 the last to emerge victorious.
– United are unbeaten in their last five league games, alternating between a win (3) and a draw (2) each time. Five of the Red Devils’ seven league wins this season have been by a one-goal margin, including all three away from home.
– No side has conceded fewer second half goals than Manchester United in the Premier League this season (five), with a league-high 69 per cent of the Red Devils’ goals conceded coming in the opening 45 minutes (11/16). However, only Wolves (33 per cent) have scored a lower share of their goals after the interval this season than Villa (36 per cent – 4/11).
– Villa won 4-0 against Brentford in their last Premier League home game, but they’ve not won consecutive matches at Villa Park within the same season since January 2021.
– United are unbeaten in their last 23 Premier League away games against Villa (W15 D8), since a 3-1 loss on the opening day of the 1995-96 campaign. It is the longest unbeaten away run one team has had against another in English league history.