Louis Van Gaal had to endure a difficult afternoon at Villa Park as Aston Villa ended the Red Devils six game winning run with a hard fought draw. Benteke denied Manchester United a seventh straight win with an 18th minute goal but United maintained third place in the Premier League table.
However, it was Falcao who ensured the points were shared, with a powerful header in the 53rd minute, rather than handing all three to a Villa team languishing in 12 place. Manchester United are just seven points off the top of the table and despite much talk about a title challenge the draw will have hurt those ambitions.
The match was also news worthy due to the controversial dismissal of Gabriel Agbonlahor, in the second half of the game, for a challenge on Ashley Young. This was Agbonlahor’s first dismissal in 289 game Premier League games. However, speaking to the BBC’s Luke Reddy, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, said of the incident: “I didn’t think it was a sending off to be fair. Ashley Young has said to Brad Guzan that he made the foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor. That was not a sending off, everyone in the ground saw that.”
If Chelsea win at Stoke on Monday then they will extend their lead at the top of the table. Then, Louis Van Gaal might look back at the Villa game and rue a timid first half display that proved to be quite costly.
United had an incredible 76% of the possession in the opening half an hour and manager Van Gaal will be asking why his players were unable to turn this into goals. This dominance failed to yield any clear cut chances despite Aston Villa being without seven players because of injury or suspension.
Aston Villa have a terrible record against Manchester United, having just the one win in 38 league meetings. However, this hard fought draw will be seen as victory of sorts for the Villa against an in form Manchester United. Again, the Red Devils have David De Gea to thank for keeping United in the game after saving an early second half header from Christian Benteke.
Again, United were playing with a 3 -4-3 system and once again Wayne Rooney was playing in midfield, but they looked dangerous. However, with Mata and van Persie being denied by Villa stopper Brad Guzan the second half saw more commitment from United going forward.
The winning run had to come to an end at some point. Perhaps it is better that it happened before the festive run in, that said a share of the points is better than losing all three. Perhaps the run will continue as an unbeaten one and take United through the busy festive period.