Football

Man United Vs Aston Villa Live Football Soccer July 23, 2022

Like most stadiums that the Reds visit around the world, the Optus Stadium — where Ten Hag’s men will take on Villa — is set to be painted red come Saturday morning. The last time United were able to go on a pre-season tour before the pandemic, they played two games in Perth instead of Melbourne — both hosted at this very venue. The Reds beat Perth Glory and Leeds in 2019. With three games already under the players’ belts, it’s getting close to that stage of pre-season where Ten Hag will be thinking about who he’ll select as part of his first XI against Brighton in just over three weeks’ time.

We may have gotten a slight preview of that on Tuesday, when the side that the United boss started played until around the hour mark, as opposed to just 45 minutes. New signing Tyrell Malacia played an additional ten minutes in his first start for the club. As for expected changes, you’d figure to expect less and less. However, Ten Hag will undoubtedly want to see some more players get minutes alongside the bulk of players he thinks are nailed on to start the Premier League opener.

Saturday’s game could see Raphael Varane return into the fold. The Frenchman has been dealing with a knock since United’s inaugural victory over Liverpool. Another player who has suffered an injury setback and is set to be part of the matchday squad is James Garner. The promising midfielder had an excellent loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season and Ten Hag will certainly want to have an extensive look at him before deciding on his future — with a search for a new midfielder still ongoing externally.

The game against Palace saw Hannibal register his first minutes of pre-season, leaving the promising starlet Alejandro Garnacho as the only name of note still without an appearance on the tour. That could change over the weekend. Despite not yet having a direct goal contribution to his name on the tour, Bruno Fernandes has been quietly, yet diligently, going about his business and pulling a lot of the strings in United’s final third. Naturally, Bruno prides himself on being an often unplayable asset in United’s creation department. But, even though he hasn’t chipped in with a goal or an assist yet, what he has shown has been extremely promising.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Portuguese playmaker in his time at United has been his somewhat frequent carelessness on the ball. Some call it reckless play, others see it as a player in charge of creating taking risks. Whatever the stance, losing possession too often can leave United vulnerable on the break. In the first three games of pre-season, Bruno looks to be a lot more calculated with his execution. He still looks for the final ball often. He still wants to play the line breaking pass that allows his teammates to dart into space and wreak havoc. But he’s doing it when it needs to be done.

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