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Manchester United vs Aston Villa (Pre-Season): 3 Things To Look Out For

Cain Smith

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Manchester United vs Aston Villa (Pre-Season): 3 Things To Look Out For

Featured Image Credit: Manchester United

Manchester United have travelled to Perth for their last Australian fixture of pre-season ahead of Erik ten Hag's first season in charge, they face Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa.

Following on from three wins on the trot, the Reds will be hoping to continue their 100 per cent record in the friendlies against the Premier League opposition.

However, more importantly, it will give the manager another chance to look at his team in-game and further assess what needs to be done before United host Brighton in just over two weeks time.

For fans, there will also be a number of key areas that they will keep an eye on in this upcoming fixture, with three of those detailed below.

Hannibal's contribution

The talented teenager made his first appearance on tour last time out against Crystal Palace, after missing out in wins against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory.

Whilst he was only given around 30 minutes, alongside other youngsters and fringe players, to show his stuff; there could be more of an opportunity for the midfielder to show his talent to Ten Hag on the pitch.

After it seemed that he was involved with the what looked like to be the starting team in training, Hannibal's inclusion with the team from the start looks ever-more likely after Ten Hag's latest comments.

“Hannibal plays some minutes now, I think he did quite well in training as well, he makes a good impression,” he told reporters.

It makes sense that the Tunisian is given game-time with the more regular starters, as he's the one youngster who you could bet on having a role in the squad next season.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

His position will be of interest to supporters who saw him operate as a false-nine in his cameo at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It's more likely we see him from the left, or in the middle of midfield.

With natural tenacity in his play, it will be interesting to see what Hannibal can produce if he's placed within the team that Ten Hag starts the game with. It could give an indication to what role he plays at the club next season.

De Gea's playing out of the back

David de Gea has came out with fighting comments surrounding the conversation about his passing out of the back.

It was a large conversation between supporters when Ten Hag was given the job, as it was clear that the shot-stopper would be tasked with adapting his game, but he believes that he's already proven his ability with the ball at his feet.

“I think I showed already. If you watch my games with the national team or when we played with Sir Alex at the beginning, you could see it - I don’t need to show to anyone," he told reporters.

Credit: Manchester United
Credit: Manchester United

“If you want to play from the back, you need a good structure, you need a lot of options, especially from the guys who are at the back. That’s fundamental.”

After positive signs were shown against Liverpool, United fans will be keeping a keen eye on the Spaniard's on ball performance against Villa on Saturday.

The pressing improvements implemented

One of the most interesting aspects on Ten Hag's United so far has been the out of possession pressing that has been implemented.

The Reds are looking to squeeze opposition in order to create turnovers. The defenders have often been seen following their markers high into the opposition half.

Meanwhile, the deflated front three of last season look increasingly hungry to win the ball back for their team, something that Ten Hag believes will reap rewards in the offensive phase.

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However, it has not been perfect and there are areas of the press that need to improve. The clearest example was seen against Melbourne Victory, where they found the opener with a quick counter-attack after bypassing United's initial press.

"I don't want to talk about the individual because I think it was from the start, high up the pitch, the wrong choices and then it ends up like a pack of cards," Ten Hag said when asked about the goal. "It's not one individual, it is more the team who made mistakes."

He has since revealed that he wants his team to be smarter with the press, and make their movements at better times to avoid being bypassed.

Credit: Manchester United
Credit: Manchester United

“The timing, when you start the press for instance," he answered when asked what improvements need to happen. "I still see switches that we can avoid and can prepare a better press.”

The switches, or triggers, he highlights is when the team decide to pounce. Whether that be a pass to the deepest defender, or to the full-back on the flank. He is looking to see the team make these movements together and in areas where they are more likely to be successful.

With another English top flight opposition, it is great practice for the Reds. Villa will want to have possession of the ball at times and this is where we will see the adjustments made to the press which is gradually improving.

Topics: Manchester United, Aston Villa, Erik Ten Hag, Premier League, Football, David De Gea

Cain Smith
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