Betfair Game of the Day: Gerrard back to haunt Old Trafford?

Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick is already under pressure at Old Trafford

Monday's Game of the Day feature looks at Steven Gerrard's return to the home of the old enemy hoping to add more pressure on Ralf Rangnick's Man Utd...

"Seven of Man Utd's last nine games have gone under 2.5 goals, and Ralf Rangnick's emphasis is on the defence as he looks for a much-needed result."

Back under 2.5 goals at 1.9110/11

Man Utd v Aston Villa
Monday 10 December, 19:55 kick-off
Live on BBC One

Monday's Game of the Day is jam-packed with intrigue as Steven Gerrard goes behind enemy lines when taking Aston Villa to Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

The rumours of unrest in the Manchester United squad continue and the last thing the Old Trafford fans want to see if the former Liverpool captain dumping them out of the FA Cup.

Here's what to watch out for in this big game along with our two suggested bets that YOU can vote for to have the price specially enhanced by the Betfair traders...

New boss, but same old Utd

Ralf Rangnick suffered his first defeat as Man Utd boss against Wolves last time out, but it had been coming after poor performances throughout most of his short period in charge.

An instant boost in running and pressing stats against Crystal Palace subsided and it took a penalty and David De Gea masterclass to beat bottom side Norwich before pinching a point at Newcastle.

Burnley were brushed aside but Wolves dominated from start to finish and it's clear that United's players are either incapable or unwilling to follow Rangnick's 4-2-2-2 system right now.

Whether they'll adapt in time remains to be seen but the rumblings of discontent emanating from the dressing room suggest they're not best pleased with a new more defensively focused style of play.

Goals have been hard to come by and if some individual brilliance doesn't bail them out then against better opposition they continue to look toothless. Something has to give as there's enough quality in this squad to play so much better than they have been, so either the players have to knuckle down or the manager has to change his ways.

Do Man Utd players respect Ralf?

Just six games in to Rangnick's tenure and already reports of player unrest are circulating - perhaps the failings at Old Trafford aren't all down to the manager after all?

Roy Keane has previously questioned the attitudes of players within that dressing room, and Gary Neville also said that team spirit looked an issue after Ronaldo sulked his way down the Newcastle tunnel.

"Something isn't right in there," said Neville. "There is definitely whinging going on. The spirit of a dressing room is really important, and I don't think they're all with each other at this moment in time.

"There's a leadership struggle going on. Harry Maguire is the captain, but he doesn't feel like the captain."

At least Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed to largely have the players in his corner, but in-fighting and a reported lack of respect for Rangnick as a manager is a big worry.

He already has a deal in place to move upstairs and shape United's sporting direction, and will also help select a new permanent manager, but that uncertainty seems to be adding to the problem - especially among players who have contracts running down.

Rangnick was brought in to put United on a clear direction for their future both on and off the pitch, but it seems the situation is just adding to the messy muddle over their identity and outlook. It's something he needs to sort out now to avoid yet another wasted season.

Gerrard out to haunt old enemy

StevenGerrard.jpg

Steven Gerrard enjoyed some good and bad times at Old Trafford with Liverpool, and wouldn't you know the fixture list has thrown up back-to-back games against the old enemy - with Villa hosting United in the Premier League just five days after this FA Cup clash.

He then goes to Goodison Park to face Rafa Benitez's Everton after that for good measure!

Gerrard's brought in former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona, showing the pull he can have as a manager, and although the Brazilian is unlikely to figure on Monday he could make his debut against United at Villa Park in the league.

Gerrard played 35 times against Man Utd with a record of W13 D2 L20 and he'll hope facing them as a manager for the first time is a happier occasion than his last as a player - when he was famously sent-off 38 seconds after coming off the bench as a half-time substitute at Anfield.

Villa will have Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings back after they missed the defeat at Brentford, which made it four wins and four defeats so far under Gerrard. He'd love to get something from his first managerial trip behind enemy lines.

Stats and form

Man Utd are 8/11 favourites here with Villa a big price at 4/1 given they've already won once at Old Trafford this season, with Kortney Hause heading in for a late 1-0 win that kind of summer up Solskjaer's downfall perfectly.

Especially as Bruno Fernandes blazed a stoppage time penalty high into the crowd.

With Harry Maguire a doubt, Victor Lindelof only just back from Covid and Eric Baily on international duty, United do have defensive worries with the possibility of Phil Jones starting again at centre back.

Although neither manager was in charge the last time they met, expect a similar tight game, but after watching Wolves dominate then Villa will fancy they can also cause real problems.

Recent stats are all against Villa though, with Man Utd winning 10 of their 12 FA Cup meetings and overall winning their last nine FA Cup ties at home, with a combined 20-2 scoreline.

And it's been a long time since Villa won an FA Cup tie, with the club having lost their last six games in the competition - that's the longest ever run for the seven-time winners.

Best bets and OddsBoost

We shouldn't be expecting too many goals given only two of the last nine Man Utd games have gone above 2.5 goals in the game. Under 2.5 goals here is 10/11.

Cristiano Ronaldo is odds-on to score at 5/6 but you just wonder if Rangnick will give him a rest. He likely would have if he wasn't under so much pressure to get a result here so it's a risky move. United need to stay in for every piece of silverware they can at the moment.

Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood would offer plenty in attack though, and this looks like a game Jesse Lingard could be involved in, having not played in a month but with his future at stake - Lingard could make an impact.

Bruno Fernandes should start after coming off the bench against Wolves, and you still feel he plays better when Ronaldo's not on the pitch and can be the main man.

BrunoFernandes.jpg

Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins will offer Villa's main attacking threat - with former Liverpool striker Ings priced up at 15/8 to score and Watkins at 11/4. And Villa should be able to get plenty of the ball if United play like they did against Wolves.

Villa should also get chances at set pieces with United not looking particularly well organised, while referee Michael Oliver could be busy as only two teams in the Premier League have been seen more yellow cards than these two sides.

Mings in particular, trying to lead by example will get stuck in, fired up by his manager and it'd be no surprise if he had his name taken.

He stars in our two suggested OddsBoosts below, which YOU can have increased in price by the Betfair traders by watching out for a vote on social media.

Ings to score & Mings carded at 11/1.

Lingard to score & Fernandes assist at 11/2.

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