Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping his Manchester United side can overturn recent poor form with Villarreal the visitors to Old Trafford in Champions League action.
The pair meet in a rematch of the Europa League final in May, a fixture decided by an elongated penalty shootout that eventually fell the Spanish club’s way after Geronimo Rulli kept out opposite number David De Gea’s spot kick. Manchester United began their Champions League campaign with a surprise defeat to Young Boys in Switzerland, a fixture in which Aaron Wan-Bissaka was dismissed.
After back-to-back home defeats to West Ham and Aston Villa, Solskjaer can ill-afford another slip up in front of a crowd that will demand success after a summer of investment. Unai Emery has established himself as something of a Europa League specialist but will bring a well-organised Villarreal team to Manchester.
The 2006 Champions League semi-finalists kept Real Madrid at bay on Saturday to secure a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu. Their first Group F fixture was an entertaining affair against Atalanta that finished 2-2, though the Spanish side had their own man sent off in the fixture, with substitute Francis Coquelin twice cautioned soon after joining affairs and thus also suspended for this game.
Follow live updates below as Manchester United take on Villarreal at Old Trafford…
Ghosts of Gdansk still haunting Manchester United ahead of Villarreal rematch
The Europa League final was supposed to crown a long campaign of steady progress at Manchester United with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first piece of silverware. Instead, Villarreal’s win by way of a 22-kick penalty shoot-out sucked the air out of the entire season, raising familiar issues and posing familiar questions.
Solskjaer wasted no time in attempting to put things right after that final, getting back to work the very next morning. The United manager knew how the manner of the defeat could sink the optimism steadily built up over the campaign. Fortunately, through purposeful spending in the transfer market and some decent early results, it was salvaged.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:29
Solskjaer on Villarreal
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:25
Man Utd vs Villarreal
Victory this evening will throw Manchester United back into the mix in Group F. On matchday one the Red Devils lost to Young Boys but the Swiss side are currently losing to Atalanta in the early kick off.
Villarreal will be a tough opponent though. They’ve never lost at Old Trafford and are unbeaten in their last four games.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:21
Is Solskjaer under increased pressure?
Part of the problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that there is an over-reaction to every Manchester United win and also every defeat.
United started the season in good form moving swiftly to the top of the Premier League table before stumbling in recent games. They’ve lost three of their last four outings including back-to-back home defeats to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Expectations are so high that when they don’t perform there is always going to be a backlash.
Another loss for the Red Devils tonight will leave the club on the verge of another Champions League group stage exit under Solskjaer, something he’ll desperately want to avoid.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:15
Manchester United ‘don’t play well enough as a team to win the title’, claims Gary Neville
Despite a summer of heavy investment at Old Trafford, the club have lost successive home games, following Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham with a league defeat to Aston Villa.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:11
Man Utd vs Villarreal
Those of you hoping for lots of action this evening may have to temper your expectations.
Manchester United and Villarreal have met five times and each game has finished in a draw. The first four meetings between the teams all came in the Champions League group stages and all four matches finished in 0-0 draws.
The most recent and unforgettable clash between the sides came in last season’s Europa League final. The match ended 1-1 after extra-time before Villarreal won 11-10 on penalties. David De Gea missing the crucial spot kick for United.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:07
Ronaldo starts for Manchester United tonight. The forward makes a record 178th appearance in the Champions League (group stage to final), moving ahead of Iker Casillas.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 19:03
Man Utd vs Villarreal – Team changes
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes four changes to the team that started against Aston Villa in the Premier League last time out.
Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw picked up injuries in that game and are replaced with Victor Lindelof and Alex Telles. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is serving a two-match ban for a red card against Young Boys on matchday one so Diogo Dalot comes in at right-back.
The final change sees Fred out and Jadon Sancho in meaning Paul Pogba will likely partner Scott McTominay in central midfield.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 18:54
Man Utd vs Villarreal – Team news
Man Utd XI: De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Telles; McTominay, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
Villarreal XI: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Moreno; Parejo, Capoue, Trigueros; Pino, Alcacer, Danjuma
Michael Jones29 September 2021 18:45
Harry Maguire injury: Manchester United defender out for ‘a few weeks’ with calf problem
Maguire is set to miss Villarreal’s visit to Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday night, having sat out of May’s Europa League final in Gdansk against the same opposition.
Luke Shaw was also taken off injured in the late 1-0 defeat to Villa, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to be able to include the left-back in the Group F meeting.
Michael Jones29 September 2021 18:40