Manchester United’s poor form failed to improve on Sunday, as Ole Gunnar Solskjær watched his side draw with a newly promoted team for the second week running. This time Aston Villa earned a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, in a topsy turvy encounter that saw both sides take the lead before squandering it.
Villa made a confident start, and broke the deadlock inside a quarter of an hour. It came courtesy of a moment of individual brilliance from one-time United target Jack Grealish, who nipped free of Andreas Pereira before whipping a vicious dipping effort inside the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.
There was little United could’ve done about the goal, but they were hardly without fault for the scoreline. It was another lacklustre first half performance from Solskjær’s men, who struggled to keep a hold of possession and invariably lacked the all-important final ball. Villa thought they’d doubled their advantage on the half-hour, though replays showed Grealish to have been inches offside before Trezeguet tucked home.
United’s equaliser arrived just before the break with a helping of good fortune. A short corner was worked out to Pereira, whose brilliant deep cross was met by Marcus Rashford. His header bounced back off the post before brushing the back of Villa keeper Tom Heaton and crossing the line. Rashford wheeled away in celebration, but soon confirmation arrived that it was to go down as an own goal.
Fortunately, a lacklustre United were much improved after the interval, with Fred and Anthony Martial both having chances in the minutes following the restart. Just past the hour, United went ahead for the first time, with Victor Lindelöf heading home after a Fred cross was diverted into his path by Villa striker Wesley.
United’s joy was, alas, short-lived. It took just two minutes for the visitors to draw level, with Tyrone Mings bringing down Matt Targett’s cross to drive home from point-blank range, having been played onside by Brandon Williams.
A flurry of chances followed at both ends of the field, as the game opened out into an exciting finale. Grealish continued to cause problems, and could’ve netted a second almost immediately after Villa had drawn level. 10 minutes later, at the other end, a goalmouth scramble culminated in Martial scooping over from close range. Daniel James looked lively on the right, but the quality of United’s finishing was incommensurate with that of his crosses.
The final score sounded with the scoreline level. The draw leaves United level on points with Crystal Palace and Burnley, eight points adrift of the Champions League spots. The danger is that results like today’s are becoming so commonplace that resign ourselves to them. Yet if United don’t improve for their next couple of games, against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, things could be very ugly indeed.