Aston Villa vs. Manchester United: 6 Things We Learned

Joshua HaywardContributor IDecember 15, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Danny Welbeck of Manchester United is watched by Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 15, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Well, after all that was made of Aston Villa's clash with Manchester United prior to kick-off, it was pretty straightforward in the end.

United strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win and have gained ground on those above them in the Premier League table.

The loss for Paul Lambert's men stretches Villa's record to an incredible one win in their last 36 league games against United.

Here are six things we learned from Villa's loss to the Red Devils.


Who needs Robin van Persie?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford on December 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Just two days prior to the clash at Villa Park, it was announced that United's talismanic Dutch striker, Robin van Persie, had been ruled out for a month.

An air of concern floated amongst the Red Devils faithful as to whether David Moyes' side could get through the hectic festive period relatively unscathed—especially considering their already faltering title charge.

However, it seems that United will be just fine in van Persie's absence as Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley grabbed the goals against Villa.


Manchester United stretched their unbeaten record at Villa Park

If there was ever a second home for United, it would surely be Villa Park.

The win stretches the Red Devils' unbeaten run to 18 in Birmingham. In fact, the last time United suffered a league defeat to Villa away from home was on the opening day of the 1995/96 season.

In those long 18 years, Villa have come close on a number of occasions and have even taken healthy leads in the past but never managed to keep their opponents out and subsequently failed to go on to secure the victory.

This match was no different.


Christian Benteke still can't find his shooting boots

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Christian Benteke of Aston Villa looks dejected following Everton's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park on October 26, 2013 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

After four goals in his first four games, Christian Benteke went nine games without finding the back of the net. 

There has been talk of “second-season syndrome” and doubt whether the striker, who virtually saved Villa from relegation single-handedly last season, will ever rekindle his goalscoring form. It seems that the speculation will continue.

The Belgian's goal drought has now stretched to 12 hours and 10 minutes without scoring a Premier League goal.


Villa have only benefited from Ashley Young's departure

Ashley Young spent four years with Villa, in which he became one of their best players, before earning a big money move to United in 2011. 

The England winger has since come under a lot of criticism—usually regarding his tendency to "dive"— and has struggled to win a regular starting berth in the United team. Young has failed to prove his Premier League credentials to current manager Moyes and is often the subject of crowd unrest at Old Trafford. In midweek, the 28-year-old was given an ironic cheer when substituted for Robin van Persie in the Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Young was given just 20 minutes against his former employers and was anonymous during his brief time on the pitch, which will have left the Villa fans feeling a sense of content at his departure.


Manchester United can still win the title

United's win put an end to successive defeats and couldn't have come at a better time.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Tom Cleverley of Manchester United celebrates as he scores their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United at Villa Park on December 15, 2013 in Birmingham, England.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

On a weekend where league leaders Arsenal were hammered 6-3 by Manchester City, the Red Devils gained ground on their rivals.

If the Gunners had won this weekend and Moyes' men lost, the difference between the two in the table would have been as many as 16 points. As it stands, it is now just 10.

Of course, it will be hard for United, especially after losing five of their first 15 games, but, as they have shown in the past, they only get stronger during the business end of the season.


Darren Fletcher is back

In what was a great sight for all football fans, especially those of a Red persuasion, Darren Fletcher made his long-awaited return to Premier League action.

Having missed the last year due to ongoing treatment of a serious stomach condition, ulcerative colitis, the Scotland international was given 20 minutes against the Claret and Blues and put in a solid shift.

Fletcher has been a key figure for United over the recent years and his presence has been sorely missed. 

Even for the Villa fans, who witnessed their side fall to yet another defeat, it was a great sight to see Fletcher back on the field.