Villarreal vs Manchester United | Tuesday 23rd November 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has finally gone. After an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Watford, everyone knew his time was up.
The club has appointed Michael Carrick as caretaker until an interim manager is found before they get their man. Will it be Zinedine Zidane or Brendan Rodgers? Time will tell.
But I’m not expecting too much change in the way United set-up or how they’ll play. It’s a short turnaround since Saturday, and during his press conference, Carrick spoke of his similar beliefs with Solskjaer, so it could just be a case of more of the same.
For now, they must focus on an important Group F Champions League. The Red Devils are top of the table but level on points with the hosts, Villarreal.
It’s a repeat of last season’s Europa League final, where David de Gea’s missed penalty saw the Yellow Submarine lift the trophy. While a few weeks ago, Unai Emery turned down the Newcastle job to remain with the La Liga outfit.
The Spanish side have lost just one in their last five following their 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo at the weekend. They opened the scoring through an unlikely source in Alberto Moreno but were pegged back in the second half by Brais Mendez.
Understat have that game as one that Villarreal will be disappointed not to have won, generating 2.72xG compared to Celta’s 0.91xG. So, they do create good goal-scoring opportunities. And that points to this being a testing evening for the Premier League side.
The betting angles
Man Utd have only kept two clean sheets this season – those came against Wolves and Spurs, so I’m very much looking to find an angle that’s pro-Villarreal.
I’m more than happy to take the 12/5 on Arnaut Danjuma to score anytime with Paddy Power. The former Bournemouth man has two goals in 300 minutes of Champions League football.
He bagged in a 31-minute cameo against Atlanta and struck last time out in the competition in the 2-0 win against Young Boys. In his four UCL appearances, the 24-year-old has recorded 13 shots with eight of those testing the opposition goalkeeper, so De Gea will have to be on his guard.
In La Liga, he’s scored five times from 11 apps, including one from off the bench against Atletico Madrid. Across those games, he’s hit 45 shots and 21 on target, so he’s averaging around four shots a game.
With seven goals and three assists since his switch to Spain, he looks a likely candidate to inflict more pain on this United defence. His five league goals have come from an expected goals of 5.15xG – the highest of any Villarreal player. While his two UCL goals have come at 1.98xG.
The Dutch international did miss the draw at Celta Vigo and is likely to be in a race against time to be fit, but his numbers look too good to ignore in case he makes it. He should cause this shaky United defence plenty of problems.
With the expectancy around goals, the 8/11 on over 2.5 looks solid, but I’m going to run with something at juicier odds. Both teams to score in the second half is 2/1 with Betfair – or 28/13 if you have SBK.
Starting with domestic form alone, Villarreal have scored eight of their 15 La Liga goals in the second half (53%), while the figure is 14 of 20 PL goals for Man Utd (70%). That United figure looks quite high!
Then when you look at the UCL, three of Villarreal’s four games have seen this outcome, while it’s two of four for the Red Devils. Think back to when they met at Old Trafford when De Gea kept United in it at times, but all three goals came after the break.
The last three United UCL games alone have required Cristiano Ronaldo to rescue or save them, netting late winners in the home game v today’s opponents, as well as Atalanta. Plus, he netted in stoppage time in Italy to rescue a point.
In the other sense, Villarreal have conceded five times in this comp, four coming after the break. While four of Man Utd’s seven conceded have been in the second half.
Given the managerial change at United, there could be a case made for this being a slower start, just to stay in the game – something they didn’t manage against Liverpool, Man City or Watford.
If that does happen, then this could explode to life in the second half with, hopefully, Danjuma leading the Yellow Submarines charge.
On another tangent, I noticed that a few central midfielders have been booked against Villarreal lately, but the appointment of Dr Felix Brych puts me off.
The German arbiter has seemingly been more lenient, which showed during Spain’s World Cup qualifier with Sweden. Depending on who starts for United, it might be worth rolling the dice if the price is right on a Scott McTominay (booked v Atalanta) or Donny van de Beek.
Villarreal vs Manchester United – Both Teams To Score in the Second-Half (2/1 Betfair)
Villarreal vs Manchester United – Arnaut Danjuma to score anytime (12/5 Paddy Power)