Aston Villa 0 Man United 1
After suffering an unexpected 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in the Football League Cup, the Manchester United players made the relatively short journey to Birmingham to face Aston Villa. The Villa Park outfit had managed a goalless draw with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in their previous Premier League match, while The Red Devils had been held to a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at The Theatre of Dreams. In the corresponding encounter of the 2010-11 season, Aston Villa and Manchester United had played out an enthralling 2-2 draw at Villa Park on the 13th of November 2010, but Rio Ferdinand and company got the better of the Midlanders this time as they bagged all three points to the despair of The Claret and Blue Army. In the 20th minute of the action, Phil Jones sprinted into the penalty area where the versatile defender hammered home a cross from nippy flanker Luis Nani. Manchester United gradually started to take control of possession after the opening goal from the newly adventurous Jones and Nani should have doubled the lead for the visitors in the 25th minute of the clash, but his header was saved by Shay Given in the Aston Villa goal. A mere two minutes later, though, the Republic of Ireland net custodian had to come off the pitch with a hamstring problem and the evergreen was subsequently replaced by American international Brad Guzan. The Old Trafford outfit continued to dominate the encounter after the restart, but for all their pressure Sir Alex Ferguson´s players were unable to find the back of the net. With fifteen minutes remaining on the clock, the hosts eventually put Manchester United and Denmark shot stopper Anders Lindegaard to the test when Wales international James Collins headed a good cross from Richard Dunne. Although the margin of victory was narrow, there was nothing fortunate about Manchester United’s triumph against a rather dismal Aston Villa side.
After overcoming The Villains by a narrow 1-0 margin at Villa Park, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United remained five points adrift of Barclays Premier League upstarts Manchester City who hammered Norwich City 5-1 at Eastlands on the same day, with Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli, and Adam Johnson netting a goal apiece for The Sky Blues, and Steve Morison scoring a consolation for The Canaries. Regarding Phil Jones, the Prestonian started his career with Blackburn Rovers for whom he made his debut in a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest at City Ground in the League Cup Third Round on the 22nd of September 2009. After making 35 Premiership appearances for The Blue and Whites, he signed on a five-year contract with Manchester United on the 13th of June 2011 and was given his first team debut in a 3–1 friendly victory over Major League Soccer team Chicago Fire at the Soldier Field on the 23rd of the following month. He went on to make his first Premier League appearance for United in a hard-fought 2-1 triumph against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on the opening day of the 2011-12 campaign and won the Premiership title with the club the next season. An England player, Jones made his international senior debut for his native country in a 2–2 European Championship Qualifier draw against Montenegro at Podgorica City Stadium on the 7 of October 2011. Aston Villa Team: Shay Given, Alan Hutton, James M Collins, Richard Dunne, Chris Herd, Stephen Warnock, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan, Jermaine Jenas, Gabby Agbonlahor, Darren Bent. Substitutes: Carlos Cuellar, Ciaran Clark, Fabian Delph, Stephen Ireland, Stilian Petrov, Emile Heskey, Brad Guzan. Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Luis Nani, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez. Substitutes: Jonathan Evans, Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck, Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher, Ji-Sung Park, David de Gea.