After two consecutive losses to Everton and Newcastle, Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 this Sunday at Villa Park. Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley were the goalscorers for David Moyes‘ team. The Red Devils are now in eighth place, but are still 10 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
New manager David Moyes was heavily criticized after home losses to Everton and Newcastle, which probably ended the Red Devils’ title hopes. The reigning champions were 13 points behind Arsenal after last weekend’s fixtures and looked nothing like the team that won the Premier League last season.
For this trip to Villa Park, Moyes opted for a more defensive approach, fielding Wayne Rooney as an attacking midfielder rather than his usual striker role in a formation that looked more like a 4-5-1 than a 4-4-2. The rest of the team was similar to last weekend’s with David De Gea in goal, Johnny Evans and Phil Jones in central defense flanked by Rafael and Patrice Evra.
Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs operated in central midfield, with Antonio Valencia on their right and youngster Adnan Januzaj on their left. Welbeck was the lone striker in the absence of injured Robin Van Persie, who is out for a month.
Despite a good start from the Villans, it’s United that opened the scoring with a goal by Welbeck. The English international was perfectly positioned to smash the ball into the net after Januzaj’s header came off the post. Three minutes later, Welbeck would take advantage of a terrible mistake by Aston Villa defender Nathan Baker to double United’s lead. The Red Devils then controlled the game to keep their 2-0 lead at halftime.
The second half started with a much improved Aston Villa. Despite their good start, the Villans conceded a third goal at the 51tst minute by Cleverley, who slotted the ball between the near post and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan for his first goal of the season. At the 69th minute, Darren Fletcher was introduced by Moyes. The Scottish international returned to competition after a year of absence due to injuries.
After two draws and and two defeats, the Red Devils have won their first Premier League game in four weeks. This win will take the pressure of Moyes’ shoulders and allow the Scottish manager to focus on the busy Christmas period coming up, when his team will play five games in 17 days.