Adnan Januzaj justified his recall to Louis van Gaal’s starting XI on Friday by scoring the only goal in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League.
The Reds are now unbeaten in 20 top-flight matches at Villa Park in a run that stretches all the way back to 1996. The victory also means United have tallied six points from six following two tricky opening fixtures, which is crucially five points more than the total registered at this stage of the last campaign.
The match was notably moved to Friday night due to an EDL march being held in Birmingham on Saturday and, although many fans were late to the stadium following traffic issues, most supporters at Villa Park appeared to enjoy the novelty of such scheduling judging by the raucous atmosphere.
Van Gaal made just one change to his starting XI by selecting Januzaj in the place of Ashley Young, with the Belgian forward playing in the hole behind Wayne Rooney while new signing Memphis Depay performed out wide on the left, a position in which he excelled for PSV Eindhoven.
United created the first chance on 15 minutes as Memphis hit an in-swinging free-kick that evaded all Villa defenders and bounced towards Morgan Schneiderlin at the back-post, where the French midfielder shaped his body to glance an awkward header wide of Brad Guzan’s goal.
The Villa goalkeeper was called into action again moments later as he beat Memphis to an important 50/50 challenge. The Dutchman was active throughout the first half, as the no.7 created another opportunity for himself on 22 minutes when he intuitively drifted inside from the left wing to exchange passes with captain Wayne Rooney before hitting a deflected shot wide of goal.