Jamie Carragher has made a stunning comparison between Aston Villa and Manchester United that spells good reading for Unai Emery but bad news for Erik ten Hag. The former Liverpool and England defender believes the Villans are now firmly in the fight for the Premier League top four and have a certain advantage over Man Utd.
Villa made it 13 consecutive home league wins on Sunday as they beat Fulham by three goals to one and they're now just three points behind league leaders Manchester City. Man Utd, meanwhile, are in sixth place, four points down on Villa and five behind Tottenham Hotspur, who occupy the final Champions League spot as it stands.
There's been a quiet improvement from Man Utd over the last few weeks as ten Hag's men have recorded four wins in their last five, and have picked up two more points than Villa in that period. Despite this, however, player-turned-pundit Carragher thinks the contrasting coaching capabilities of the respective managers will eventually pay dividends, as long as Villa can overcome the fixture congestion.
"If you look back over the last 12 months since Unai Emery came in, if you are talking about Manchester United, Aston Villa are a better-coached team than United. There's absolutely no doubt about that," Carragher told Sky Sports. "The problem Villa might have is that I think they will go far in Europe because of the manager they have and the quality he has.
"I can see them doing really well in the Europa Conference League, so in the second half of the season they are playing a lot on Thursday and then on Sunday. In terms of Manchester United and Newcastle, there's a good chance they may not even have Europe in the second half of the season. That could be a deciding factor," Carragher admitted, looking at the bigger picture.
Villa and United are yet to play one another this campaign but will face off on Boxing Day at Old Trafford, making for quite the spectacle. The return fixture is then just six weeks later as Man Utd travel to Villa Park on February 10. That second one could truly be a six-pointer come that point in the season.