Aaron Wan-Bissaka prepares to take a throw-in at Old Trafford

United full-backs brought their 'A' game against Villa

Saturday 02 January 2021 12:37

In what was undoubtedly one of this season's most exciting games at Old Trafford, Manchester United full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw played a big part, as they entertained the New Year's Day TV audience and attacked Aston Villa in the eventual 2-1 win.

The visitors arrived at Old Trafford with one of the best defensive records in the Premier League, having conceded only three goals in their previous seven away games.

But the Reds almost doubled that tally in just 90 minutes as Anthony Martial scored in the first half from Wan-Bissaka's first Premier League assist of the season and Bruno Fernandes netted a spot-kick in the second, with plenty of other chances laid on by creative forces including our right-back and left-back.
We can't stop watching Martial's goal! Video

We can't stop watching Martial's goal!

Pogba's wizardry. Rashford's flick. AWB's run and cross. Martial's diving header. Our opener against Villa had it all...

In a move prior to the one where he picked out Martial for the opening goal, Aaron thrillingly linked up with Marcus Rashford on the right, blindsiding his opposite numbers in the Villa back four before cutting the ball back from the byline for Fred to fire just over the top following Paul Pogba's clever dummy.

"I had the license to get forward and have an end product up there," revealed Wan-Bissaka in his post-match interview.

"That's what the coaches want and that's what they're helping me to do."

When asked about the right-back's productivity in his post-match press conference, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enthused: "I think Aaron's improved, especially on the ball. He's giving us more and more on the ball.

“[He made] a few one-twos today, creating chances and it was great build-up play with a run and cross for Anthony's goal.”

As if to mark the passing of a baton, it was Shaw who provided the final first-half raid into Villa's territory. Initially collecting the ball on the halfway line, the left-back received it again from Paul Pogba after surging further up the pitch and then shrugged off a challenge from Bertrand Traore to force a corner with a low cross.

Shaw shapes to cross in first-half injury time, after holding off the grounded Traore.
The half-time whistle prevented the set piece from being taken but the left-back was soon picking up from where he left off, edging Aaron as the more attacking defender in the second period. 

It was possession in Shaw's area of the pitch that led to Pogba being pulled down for Fernandes's match-winning penalty and Luke came closer than most to creating a third goal for his side.

One of his pull-backs could have been put away by Pogba and another would almost certainly have found Martial inside the six-yard box had Villa centre-back Ezri Konsa not slid in at the near post to divert it.

90 in 20: United 2 Aston Villa 1 Video

90 in 20: United 2 Aston Villa 1

Watch 20 minutes of extended highlights from United's 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford...

For all their attacking endeavours, however, it was one of Wan-Bissaka and Shaw's fellow defenders doing their 'day job' who ensured United's 2-1 lead remained intact at the end of the game.

Eric Bailly's block to keep out a shot from Villa substitute Keinan Davis led to him being surrounded by his grateful team-mates at the final whistle and winning our Man of the Match award, and Wan-Bissaka, for one, believes the Ivorian richly deserved both bouts of acclaim.

"That was a big moment that could have gone the other way so that was good for him," Aaron told us after the game. "We're happy for Eric."


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