Preview: Manchester United look to bounce back against Aston Villa

Copyright: Malcolm Bryce

Manchester United are on a losing streak and are desperate to get back to winning ways. Aston Villa are in a transitional stage and are going all out to avoid relegation.

At one stage, United seemed like outside contenders for the Women’s Super League title. Now, having lost two on the bounce their aim must be to finish in the top three.

Villa have conceded 17 goals in their last five games. New Head Coach Marcus Bignot has certainly been focusing on their leaky defence often playing with five at the back.

It was a dominant performance from the Reds last time out against Villa, having 10 shots on target. But with all their dominance they only hit the back of the net twice thanks to Leah Galton and Ella Toone.

Villa go into this game on the back of yet another 4-0 defeat. However, they will take some comfort from the fact they held out to the Gunners for almost an hour before conceding.

Ones to watch

Manchester United

United will miss forward Galton after she suffered an ankle injury. Galton has been impressive this season. Casey Stoney will be hoping the likes of Toone and Christen Press will step up.

The midfield duo of Hayley Ladd and Katie Zelem will play a major factor in whether they can repeat their dominance from the previous fixture.

Ladd is known for her tough tackling but will be keen to stay out of the referee’s notebook.

Amy Turner and Millie Turner are likely to partner up in the centre of defence to thwart any Villa attack. Stoney will not want a repeat of their last game when they conceded three goals to Manchester City so easily.

Aston Villa

Japan captain Mana Iwabuchi may have been grabbing the headlines since her arrival but Villa do have other options. Danish striker Stine Larsen has also been creating plenty of chances.

Another forward option is 21-year-old Shania Hayles. Having scored a remarkable 10 goals last season, Hayles has already found the back of the net four times this time round.

Bignot will most likely focus on his backline avoiding any more goal fests against them. He has persisted with the same three defenders of Anita Asante, Elisha N’Dow and Natalie Haigh in every match. It remains to be seen if he’ll ring the changes at the back.

Looking to the future, Villa also have a number of bright prospects. Academy manager Jack Peel has done really well to prepare so many youngsters stepping up to Villa’s first team including Freya Gregory and Olivia McLoughlin.

Kick-off is on Sunday at 12pm and the match is live on The FA Player.

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