A strong Villa side could not overcome Man United in the FA Cup on Monday, but head coach Steven Gerrard will have been delighted with what he saw from his team for long spells of the contest, with the home side needing to ride their luck to advance to the fourth round of the competition.
Villa have shown their intent by bringing Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Digne to the club during the January window, and there is no question that Gerrard will be targeting a top-half finish, despite the fact that the team actually sit a disappointing 14th in the table after 19 matches of the 2021-22 campaign.
The hosts have won seven, drawn one and lost 11 of their 19 league games this term to collect 22 points, but they are only three points behind 10th-placed Leicester City, and it is difficult to look too closely at the table at the moment, as a number of teams have matches to catch up on after COVID-19 issues.
Villa have lost four of their last five matches in all competitions, including three of their last four in the league against Liverpool, Chelsea and Brentford, which has seen them slide down the table.
The Lions beat Man United 1-0 in the reverse match at Old Trafford back in September, but they have not overcome the Red Devils at Villa Park in the league since August 1995.
The visitors might have beaten Villa in the FA Cup on Monday, but they lost their last league game at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 3, which put a dent in their top-four aspirations.
Ralf Rangnick’s side are currently seventh in the table, six points behind fourth-placed West Ham United with two games in hand on the Hammers, so they are still very much in the argument for a Champions League spot.https://9765e62cec30a5e8b3ace7bb20042f0d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
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Cristiano Ronaldo has said that only a top-three spot will be good enough for the club, but they are 11 points off third-placed Liverpool and will find it difficult to finish any higher than fourth this term.
The 20-time English champions have three huge Premier League matches against Villa, Brentford and West Ham to finish the month of January before taking on Middlesbrough in the FA Cup at the start of February.
The Champions League also resumes next month, with the Red Devils, who won 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League last term, facing Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, and the 2021-22 campaign could yet to be a success for Man United despite their issues thus far