Aston Villa celebrate after winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley

Welcome back to the Premier League, Aston Villa!

Monday 27 May 2019 18:00

One of Manchester United's oldest opponents will be back on our fixture list next season after Aston Villa, featuring on-loan Reds defender Axel Tuanzebe, won Monday's Championship play-off final.

The West Midlands club secured their place in the 2019/20 Premier League by beating Derby County 2-1, with Tuanzebe playing the full 90 minutes under the famous Wembley arch.

The United loanee partnered Tyrone Mings at centre-back and the impressive pair looked on course for a clean sheet until the Rams scored in the 81st minute through Martyn Waghorn (or Jack Marriott as credited in some quarters), to leave the Villa fans wondering if the earlier two-goal cushion provided by Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn would be sufficient to give them victory.
Tuanzebe challenges Derby's Mason Bennett during Villa's play-off final victory at Wembley.
In the end, Dean Smith's side had indeed done enough to overcome Frank Lampard's team for a third time this term - following 3-0 and 4-0 wins in the regular home and away meetings - and they can now look forward to facing the likes of United again after three seasons in the Championship, their only spell outside the Premier League since its inception in 1992.

The result at Wembley means the Villans will join Championship winners Norwich City and runners-up Sheffield United in replacing the relegated Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town in the top flight.

Congratulations to Axel and all of his colleagues at Villa Park - see you next season. In the meantime, here's a reminder of the record between our clubs...


Villa Park has generally been a happy hunting ground for the Reds in the Premier League era but one of our only two defeats there in the competition was inflicted on the first visit, in November 1992, when the now-late Dalian Atkinson scored the only goal of the game. Alex Ferguson's men were also unable to win the return fixture, 1-1 at Old Trafford in March 1993, but we had the last laugh by winning the inaugural PL title race with the Midlanders finishing second.

The first match between the clubs actually dates back another 100 years to the Newton Heath days, when our lads won 2-0 at our then home ground in North Road in November 1892. Villa won the next three clashes, including two at their former base in Perry Barr.


The Villans' first top-flight relegation since 1987 was confirmed when the clubs last met, on 16 April 2016 at Old Trafford. The Reds won 1-0 with a first-half goal from Marcus Rashford, who was making only his 12th senior appearance.

Marcus Rashford celebrates his goal against Aston Villa in April 2016.


Eric Black - who played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen - was at the helm in a caretaker capacity when the Midlanders went down at the end of a dismal 2015/16 season, in which they had sacked two bosses in Tim Sherwood and then Remi Garde.

Villa have appointed three permanent managers since June 2016 when Recon Group bought the club and its owner Tony Xia became chairman. Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo was the first man to be tasked with taking them back to the Premier League but he lasted for only 12 games and was replaced by Steve Bruce.

Villa captain Jack Grealish and manager Dean Smith celebrate with the Championship play-off trophy.

The ex-United captain could only steer the club to 13th place in the Championship at the end of 2016/17 and even when he fared much better in 2017/18, finishing fourth, there was still heartbreak as Villa lost to Fulham in the play-off final at Wembley.

In October 2018, Bruce lost his post after a sequence of nine league games in which they only managed to claim one win. His successor Dean Smith was to oversee an improvement that secured a play-off spot with a run of ten consecutive victories and after seeing off local rivals West Bromwich Albion in the semi-finals, Villa beat Derby in Monday's final.

A wide view of Villa Park during United's 1-0 win there in August 2015.


As we intimated earlier, it's very good - we've won 15 of our 24 Premier League games there, drawing seven times and losing just twice. In fact, the Reds are unbeaten in the last 20 top-flight trips to Villa, with the last defeat coming way back in August 1995 when David Beckham's brilliant goal was just a consolation as the hosts beat a young United side 3-1.

That was the game which prompted TV pundit and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen to declare "you'll never win anything with kids" and the rest, as they say, is history.

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