Two Manchester United players may have Guarded starting spots in the FA Cup final after Aston villa victory

Two Manchester United players may have Guarded starting spots in the FA Cup final after Aston villa victory

Defensive partnership

Manchester United’s makeshift central-defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw had a more subdued afternoon against Aston Villa, but both players were instrumental in preserving another clean sheet at Old Trafford.

Lindelof’s header to remove the ball from Ollie Watkins’s head early in the second half prevented an almost certain goal for the visitors, and Shaw’s quick reaction to block Douglas Luiz after Villa worked a corner into space on the outskirts of the penalty area. When Jacob Ramsey had space to fire at the hour mark, Lindelof was again involved with a significant block.

Lindelof’s finest moment occurred when it was unnecessary. The Villa attack continued when Watkins was offside, and when it appeared that Douglas Luiz had found the top corner, the Swede brilliantly cleared the line. The flag was then raised, but Lindelof’s efforts were recognized by Diogo Dalot with a stroke on the back.

United player ratings versus Aston Villa

Prior to last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final, Lindelof and Shaw had never started a game together at center-back, but they’ve looked reasonably assured in all three games together and seem to have an unexpectedly natural chemistry. Due to Lindelof’s position as a right-sided central defender, they have rarely shared the same side of the field.
With Harry Maguire’s return to fitness, he was relegated to the substitute. Based on this week’s performance, Lindelof and Shaw may be Erik ten Hag’s first-choice partnership at the back for the remainder of the season, including the FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Malacia’s vital moment

Tyrell Malacia is the only summer signing who has yet to make a significant contribution to Erik ten Hag’s team this season, although he was recruited as a reserve for £13 million at age 23.

After a respectable beginning, he has appeared less stable in recent weeks. He was responsible for Sevilla’s first goal at Old Trafford and didn’t do himself any favors on Thursday when he substituted for Tottenham.

His performance in the final third against Aston Villa was inconsistent, but he did produce a crucial defensive play. Villa hadn’t posed much of a threat until they sent John McGinn into the box, but Malacia made a goal-saving tackle as McGinn attempted to finish. Several minutes later, United took the lead.

Malacia displayed another excellent sliding challenge on Ashley Young late in the first half, taking the ball cleanly and earning a throw-in when the ball rebounded off the former Manchester United player.

Done with the league?

This victory should put an end to all discussion regarding United’s top-four ambitions. Recently, they’ve been inching closer to securing Champions League football, but with the run-in they have and the cushion they’ve accumulated, a return to Europe’s elite now appears inevitable.

This was always the goal at the beginning of the season, and Ten Hag is currently on track to accomplish it with relative ease. Add the FA Cup final and the first trophy in six years, and the campaign has been a success.

Old Trafford is without question the foundation of that success, especially in the league. United has not conceded a league goal at home since February 8 and has lost just once in 16 league games, on the opening day.

Appropriately, what could be a pivotal victory in their season came via a hard-fought home victory in which they prevented the opponent from scoring.


The away end celebrating Unai Emery and chanting about a European tour could be heard inside Old Trafford prior to kickoff, but the sights and scents told us what was happening outside.

Two days after the final deadline for bids to purchase the club had passed, thousands of United supporters joined the latest protesters against the Glazers. After eighteen years of ownership, these supporters will only accept a comprehensive sale from the Glazers.

Twenty minutes before kickoff, the scent of smoke bombs being detonated in the Munich Tunnel began to permeate the field, and a smoky haze covered the field as well.

As the players emerged, there were several hundred vacant seats in the signing section above the tunnel, and those who had arrived early expressed their opinions. As the players exited Old Trafford, the chant “We want the Glazers out” reverberated out.

A prominent linesman

On his return to Premier League action, linesman Constantine Hatzidakis, infamous for elbowing Andy Robertson, evoked sympathy.

A week ago, he played in the Championship match between Preston and Blackburn, but this was his first assignment back in the Premier League since his collision with Robertson.

If he believed that 45 minutes of officiating with Roberton in his ear warranted an elbow, he may have been inclined to knock down Bruno Fernandes at halftime. United’s right winger spent the majority of the first half complaining about Hatzidakis.

When Alex Moreno tangled with Fernandes, he was denied a decision, which infuriated him. When United were denied a penalty on the opposite side of the field, Fernandes showed Hatzidakis disdain by waving both arms. When the same player was flagged offside after Casemiro had hit the crossbar, he flashed a look of disbelief and then a barely-believing chuckle at the poor linesman, who had actually had a fine first half when United were testing his ability with those runs in behind.

Hatzidakis’ refusal to raise his flag when Rashford scored just before halftime and Fernandes scored on the rebound did not bother Fernandes. The linesman made an outstanding choice.

Two Manchester United players may have Guarded starting spots in the FA Cup final after Aston villa victory