We picked up a lot of points in December and now find ourselves in fifth place. If and it's a massive win, we were to win our two games in hand on the leaders we would be in second place. But if and it's another big if, Manchester United were to win their game in hand they'd actually be second, on goal difference and we would be third.
Today is a big game and not just because of the points, but because it's two big Clubs going head to head. Yes, we've struggled the past few years, but we are a big Club, anyway you want to look at it and I like to look at it from every way.
And I want to explore this a little bit. For me, you be a big Club, it's not just about supporters and size of stadium, it's about what you've achieved or your current League status. Let me give you some context. Nottingham Forest have won the European Cup twice and the League once, but they area provincial side. They're not a big Club but they should be respected.
Leeds have decent support, but they've won the League three times, the FA Cup once and the League Cup once and nothing in Europe. They're not a big Club. If they were a big Club, that would mean Huddersfield Town were too. Sides like Leeds and Newcastle simply can't be classified as big Clubs. They have good support for sure, but it doesn't make them a big Club.
Us on the other hand, it's different. We have the support, the stadium and the trophy cabinet. As do Manchester United. This is why today is a match between two big Clubs and why the match today is more than just points. Don't get me wrong the points are the most important part about today.
Time for speculation
And it wouldn't be a post about this match without mentioning Jack, not just because of all the speculation in the summer but because of the speculation that is starting again now. And don't get me wrong, Manchester United are a big Club but as I've written above, so are we. And I mean no disrespect to Manchester United and their supporters, but they are a way off the team they had under Sir Alex Ferguson.
By that I mean, they are not what they were. Liverpool are now the side to catch and we all know Manchester City will be back, as will Chelsea when Roman pulls the trigger. And we have a chance too.
And the Tweet below from Jack yesterday says a lot to me. Aston Villa is his Club and other than money, what more can they offer him today? He'd make more, but he'd play less and I think Jack likes to play. I think Jack also knows he's the big fish with us and I think he likes that, we all would. At Manchester United, he'd not be the big fish and I think he needs that.
2020 has been a surreal year... Although there’s been some difficult moments, there’s been some really great moments too! Helping keep my team in the Premier League and making my England debut will live long in the memory. I’m thankful to everyone! Happy New Year ❤️ pic.twitter.com/QUUGQfX9um— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) December 31, 2020
Right, all is written, I have to tidy the house and get ready for the day. Catch you all later.
Match facts from the BBC
- Aston Villa's solitary win in the past 43 Premier League meetings came at Old Trafford in December 2009 courtesy of Gabriel Agbonlahor's headed goal (D11, L31).
- That is also Villa's only victory in 33 competitive away games against Manchester United since 1983 (D7, L25).
- Last season's corresponding fixture ended 2-2, so Villa can remain unbeaten in consecutive Premier League matches at Old Trafford for only the second time, emulating 1995-96 and 1996-97.
- United are enjoying a nine-match unbeaten league run, winning seven and drawing two.
- Second place is their highest Premier League position at the turn of the year since Alex Ferguson retired as manager after the 2012-13 season.
- The Red Devils have suffered three Premier League home defeats in 2020-21 - they've only lost more in an entire season on two occasions: 2013-14 (seven defeats) and 2001-02 (six).
- Aside from a 6-2 victory against Leeds, Manchester United have only scored four goals in their other seven league games at Old Trafford this season.
- They hold the top-flight record of 27 wins on New Year's Day.
- However, they could lose their opening league fixture in consecutive years for the first time since 1978 and 1979.
- Paul Pogba has gone 21 appearances without a goal at Old Trafford in all competitions since he scored two penalties in a league victory against West Ham in April 2019.
- Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 32 goals in his 29 Premier League appearances, scoring 18 and setting up 14.
- Villa could go unbeaten in six successive Premier League games within the same season for the first time since a seven-match streak from the beginning of 2011-12.
- Their solitary defeat in nine away league fixtures since early July came against West Ham on 30 November (W5, D3).
- Aston Villa can win more than eight of their opening 15 top-flight matches in a season for the first time since becoming league champions in 1980-81.
- Dean Smith's side need one more league victory to equal the nine they managed throughout last season.
- They have an unrivalled eight league clean sheets this season - one more than they registered in the entirety of 2019-20.
- Villa are unbeaten in their past 10 league fixtures on New Year's Day (W6, D4).
- Anwar El Ghazi has five goals in as many Premier League appearances, after scoring just four in his first 37.
- Ollie Watkins has gone seven games without a goal. He scored eight times in his first 10 Aston Villa appearances.