Everton have confirmed that a supporter has been arrested after Aston Villa pair Matty Cash and Lucas Digne were struck by a bottle during Saturday's Premier League clash.

The incident occurred in first-half stoppage time at Goodison Park as Villa's players celebrated Emi Buendia's headed opener, which proved to be the only goal of the game.

Villa's players celebrated the goal in the corner in front of Everton fans and several drinks bottles were thrown in their direction

One of those objects hit Cash and Digne, the latter of whom spent three and a half years with Everton before joining Villa last week after falling out with former boss Rafael Benitez.

Both players fell to the turf and held their heads, but they were able to continue.

Everton confirmed shortly after the 1-0 loss that they had identified the supporter and the matter is now being dealt with by Merseyside Police.

"Police have arrested a supporter at Goodison Park for throwing a missile onto the pitch during today's Premier League match against Aston Villa," a club statement read.

"Everton security staff and Merseyside Police identified the supporter using CCTV footage.

"Several objects were thrown towards the pitch following Aston Villa’s goal at the end of the first half, with one missile appearing to strike two opposition players.

"Investigations in conjunction with the police are ongoing, and the club will issue bans to any fans identified throwing objects."

Duncan Ferguson hailed the work Wayne Rooney has done at Derby County as the former England captain acknowledged he is "flattered" by reports of Everton's interest.

Rooney, England's record goalscorer who had two spells at boyhood club Everton either side his trophy-laden stint at Manchester United, moved into management in 2020 at Derby, where he played out his final year as a player.

In his first half season at the club, Rooney kept Derby up on the final day. However, the Championship club's financial woes came to a head in September when they filed for administration, which was subsequently followed by a 12-point deduction and then a further nine-point penalty.

Yet against the odds, Rooney has Derby off the foot of the table and eight points from safety. 

Everton, meanwhile, sacked Rafael Benitez on Sunday after a defeat to lowly Norwich City capped a dismal run of just one win in 13 Premier League games. They sit 16th, six points above the relegation zone.

 

Ferguson, as he did in 2019 before Carlo Ancelotti arrived, has taken interim charge and will oversee Saturday's clash with Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa, but Rooney – along with Frank Lampard and Fabio Cannavaro – is a reported candidate, with Belgium having rebuffed an approach for Roberto Martinez.

Asked about the rumours during Friday's media conference ahead of Derby's contest with rivals Nottingham Forest, Rooney said: "I'm the same as everyone else. I see the speculation on social media and in the papers.

"Of course, Everton is a club I grew up supporting and I'm flattered to be brought up in those conversations. But I know Everton will know for them to have any communication with me, they have to go through the administrators.

"I think it's all hearsay as there has been no approach. My focus is on Derby."

Rooney was brought up in Ferguson's own media conference, and the Scot said: "I'm not going to drag on too many names who would be a good fit, but certainly Wayne's done very well at Derby, he's an Evertonian.

"He could be one candidate of many and he's proved himself as a very good manager."

 

Ferguson – who revealed Real Madrid manager Ancelotti had contacted him this week to offer advice – was pressed on whether he would like the opportunity to manage Everton.

"Maybe, down the line, one day – I always dream about becoming Everton manager – but I've not quite got that experience," he answered.

"My job at the moment is to take the upcoming games, steady the ship and the club will go through a process of identifying the new manager. 

"You never know in football, but my job at the moment is to focus on the next game and that's it. 

"We need a winning manager. A manager who can come and win games of football, build something and get us back up the league."

Everton have taken just five points in their last 12 Premier League matches (W1 D2 L9), the fewest in a 12-game span since earning four points between August and October 1994, and asked about Benitez's departure, Ferguson replied: "I think the results weren't there, we weren't too surprised, I don't think Rafa would be too surprised."

Saturday's game with Villa has plenty of side stories. Liverpool great Gerrard was on the winning side against Everton more often than he was against any other opponent in the Premier League (16), while Lucas Digne is returning to Goodison Park just over a week after he left due to a falling out with Benitez.

Emiliano Martinez has signed a contract extension with Aston Villa until 2027.

The Argentina goalkeeper, who tasted Copa America success in 2021, has been an integral figure at Villa Park since his move from Arsenal ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Martinez managed 15 clean sheets in his maiden term under Dean Smith last season, equalling the club's Premier League record for shutouts that was last achieved by Brad Friedel.

Since saving a John Lundstram penalty on his Premier League debut for Villa on September 21, 2020, only two goalkeepers – Ederson (31) and Edouard Mendy (24) – have kept more top-flight clean sheets than the 29-year-old (20).

And after penning a fresh five-and-a-half-year deal, Martinez outlined why he has committed his future to Steven Gerrard's side.

"I won a major tournament with Argentina not long ago and every time I come through the tunnel at Villa Park on a matchday, I can see the crowd, the lights, the fans excited for us to play," he told VillaTV on Friday.

"Just before coming out [on to the pitch], I see the Champions League trophy and the FA Cup trophy and that's where I want to get.

"I want to be in a Champions League final with Villa, I want to be at Wembley playing in an FA Cup final or EFL final.

"That's why I'm committing five and a half years to this club because that's where I want to get."

Martinez endured a frustrating time at Arsenal, where he made just 15 appearances as he was loaned out to numerous clubs, but believes he has now settled at Villa.

"When I signed for Aston Villa, obviously I had massive ambitions about being in Europe and being the best version of myself, and the club have opened a really good door for me," he added.

"They made me a better goalkeeper, with the goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, Christian [Purslow], Johan [Lange], they're good people, very loyal and ambitious as well, like the owners."

"So winning a major tournament for Argentina, thank you to Aston Villa for developing me as a good goalkeeper; and I think actually I can improve much more here and I want to commit my future here.

"It feels like home."

Villa, who also brought in experienced goalkeeper Robin Olsen on loan from Roma on Tuesday, sit 13th in the Premier League on 23 points as they prepare for their next clash with Everton on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's dream homecoming to Manchester United has not gone quite to plan so far.

While Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 22 games – double the amount of any other United player – his team have otherwise struggled this term.

And with United in a serious battle to qualify for next season's Champions League, an early parting of the ways could be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO'S TOP-FOUR ULTIMATUM

Ronaldo's representatives have informed United that the superstar forward will leave if the club miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, according to The Sun.

The Portugal international, who penned a two-year contract in August with the option of a further year, is said to be concerned by the direction in which United are heading.

Ralf Rangnick's side beat Brentford 3-1 on Tuesday but still remain seventh, albeit now just two points off fourth-placed West Ham with a game in hand.

Serial winner Ronaldo last week questioned the attitude of some of his United team-mates and then reacted angrily to being substituted off during the win at Brentford.


ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich will consider selling Robert Lewandowski at the end of the season if their talisman turns down the offer of a new deal, according to Bild. Lewandowski, who received The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year on Monday, is out of contract at the end of 2022-23.

– Goal reports that Atletico Madrid have no intention of allowing Luis Suarez to complete a sensational return to the Premier League this month. The former Liverpool striker had been touted as a target for Aston Villa, who are now under the management of his old team-mate Steven Gerrard.

Chelsea have set their sights on a trio of Barcelona players, reports El Nacional. Blues boss Thomas Tuchel is said to be particularly keen on Frenkie de Jong, while full-back Sergino Dest and youngster Gavi are also targets.

– Meanwhile, Sport say that Barca are interested in Chelsea's Andreas Christensen. Barca are hoping to reach a pre-contract agreement with the defender this month.

Newcastle United must fend off competition from another Premier League club for the signing of Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos, claims Sky Sports. The Magpies are also reported to be interested in Jesse Lingard.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the subject of a loan bid, with an obligation to buy, from Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. The Gabon international is out of the picture under Mikel Arteta and may be granted permission to leave for the rest of 2021-22. Goal are reporting that story.

Luis Suarez's future at Atletico Madrid is unclear with his contract to expire at the end of the season.

Suarez helped Atleti win LaLiga last term with 21 goals.

The Uruguayan joined Atletico from top-flight rivals Barcelona in 2020 on a two-year deal.

TOP STORY – SUAREZ WANTS GERRARD REUNION AT VILLA

Suarez wants a reunion with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, reports Gerard Romero.

The Atletico Madrid forward's contract expires at the end of this season and has been sounded out by numerous Brazilian clubs.

Suarez has had offers from Palmeiras, Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro but wants to link up with Gerrard who took over at Villa in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Milan's Franck Kessie, as part of their effort to convince Kylian Mbappe to stay in the French capital amid interest from Real Madrid.

- Juventus have made an enquiry for Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria according to 90min as they prepare for Arthur Melo to join Arsenal .

- Arsenal's bid to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic looks to have hit a roadblock with the Serbian only interested in joining Juventus, reports the Mail.

- Milan want to bolster their backline and are interested in a loan deal for Tottenham's Japhet Tanganga, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Leicester City and Newcastle United may rival Brentford to sign Inter's Christian Eriksen, reports the Times.

Barcelona remain determined to strengthen their squad despite financial constraints and could be ready to move for Adama Traore.

It appears the Wolves winger may be sold this month as Bruno Lage's men have already secured a potential replacement.

Any Barca deal would be complicated by interest from Tottenham, however – assuming they are prepared to match Wolves' demands.


TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM, BARCELONA ON ALERT AS WOLVES READY TO SELL TRAORE

Adama Traore could leave Wolves in January, and Barcelona and Tottenham are both interested in the winger, according to the Daily Star.

Wolves have previously insisted they want to keep the Spain international, but Monday's signing of Portugal Under-21s international Chiquinho could open the door for Traore's exit.

Spurs are keen but their proposed loan until the end of the season is not something Bruno Lage's side are prepared to accept, as they are holding out for a £25million sale.

Barca have been linked with the 25-year-old but they must be careful of their spending due to their financial problems.


ROUND-UP

Barcelona are determined to bring in a striker this month and Alvaro Morata remains the top target, according to Marca. However, negotiations with Juventus have proved difficult.

– It appears Dusan Vlahovic may not be leaving Fiorentina yet after all. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Arsenal and Juventus target will be kept until the end of the season.

Manchester United have turned their attention to signing John McGinn from Aston Villa, but not until the close-season, the Telegraph says.

– Meanwhile, United striker Anthony Martial does not want to join another English club, leaving BarcaJuventus and Sevilla as his main options, Fabrizio Romano reports.

– Newcastle United's bid to sign a new centre-back took a blow as Monaco rejected their £33.4m (€40m) bid for Benoit Badiashile, L'Equipe claims.

– A striker is also on Newcastle's shopping list and they have launched a £25m (€30m) offer for Atalanta's Duvan Zapata, the Daily Record says.

Anthony Martial has insisted he would never refuse to play for Manchester United, despite Ralf Rangnick's claims that he asked not to feature against Aston Villa.

The 26-year-old forward was absent as Rangnick named just eight substitutes, including two goalkeepers, for United's trip to Villa Park, which ended all square after Philippe Coutinho completed a late comeback from two goals down. 

Rangnick was already without Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo due to injury, with Anthony Elanga chosen to start on the left flank.

The United interim manager revealed last month that France international Martial is seeking a move away from the club due to a lack of minutes.

Sevilla were reported to be interested in Martial but are understood to be unable to afford his wages, with United apparently rejecting an approach to take him on loan until the end of the season.

Rangnick told reporters: "He didn't want to be in the squad.

"He would have been in the squad normally but he didn't want to and that's the reason why he was not travelling with us yesterday."

However, Martial – who joined from Monaco in 2015 – subsequently refuted his manager's claims.

On his Instagram story, Martial said: "I will never refuse to play a match for Man United.

"I've been here for seven years and I have never disrespected and will never disrespect the club and the fans."

Anthony Martial "didn't want" to be involved in Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, claimed Red Devils boss Ralf Rangnick, as the attacker continues to push for a move away from Old Trafford.

The 26-year-old forward was absent as Rangnick named just eight substitutes for United's trip to Villa Park, which ended all square after Philippe Coutinho completed a late comeback from two goals down. 

Rangnick was already without Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo due to injury, with Anthony Elanga chosen to start on the left flank.

The United interim manager revealed last month that France international Martial is seeking a move away from the club due to a lack of minutes.

Sevilla were reported to be interested in Martial but are understood to be unable to afford his wages, with United apparently rejecting an approach to take him on loan until the end of the season.

Martial seems intent on forcing his way out, however, with Rangnick confirming after the Villa draw that the player unilaterally decided to not be in the squad.

 

Rangnick told reporters: "He didn't want to be in the squad.

"He would have been in the squad normally but he didn't want to and that's the reason why he was not travelling with us yesterday."

Martial was out with a knee injury during Rangnick's first weeks, but he has yet to make an appearance in any competition since.

Kevin De Bruyne came back to haunt his old club as his fine strike handed Premier League leaders Manchester City a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

Against no side has De Bruyne scored more Premier League goals than he has against the Blues (five), with this total the most against Chelsea by any player who has previously played for them in the competition.

Elsewhere, Manchester United threw away a two-goal lead at Aston Villa to draw 2-2, with Philippe Coutinho sealing a point on his debut following his loan move from Barcelona.

Wolves beat Southampton 3-1 and Norwich City piled the pressure on Rafael Benitez with a 2-1 win over Everton, while strugglers Newcastle United and Watford played out a 1-1 draw.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the Opta data from another eventful day in the Premier League.

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: De Bruyne edges Guardiola's men closer to the title

City's seemingly unstoppable march towards the Premier League title continued with a 12th straight top-flight win.

It marked the ninth run of 12 or more victories in the competition's history, with Pep Guardiola's side now responsible for four of those.

The decisive goal came from Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgium international superbly whipping into the bottom-right corner from distance with 20 minutes remaining.

De Bruyne has scored 21 Premier League goals from outside the penalty area – the most of any player since his first season with City (2015-16), and the joint-most of any Citizens player in the competition's history (level with Sergio Aguero).

Chelsea scarcely landed a blow on their hosts, failing to register a single shot in the first half. Indeed, they had just seven touches in City's penalty area – their fewest in a single Premier League match since January 2015 (also seven vs Man City).

Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United: Red Devils squander two-goal lead

A stirring late fight back from Villa meant United failed to win a Premier League away game in which they led by 2+ goals for the first time since January 2016 against Newcastle (3-3).

Bruno Fernandes' opener was the first Premier League goal United have scored from a set piece situation this season (excluding penalties), before the Portugal international doubled their advantage in the second period.  

Since making his United debut in February 2020, only Mohamed Salah (45) and Harry Kane (34) have scored more Premier League goals than Fernandes (33), while only James Ward-Prowse (seven) has scored more goals from outside the box in the competition during this period than the Portuguese (six).

Jacob Ramsey inspired a memorable comeback, though, the 20-year-old becoming the first Villa player to both score and assist against United in a single Premier League game since John Carew in April 2009, and the third-youngest player to do it against the Red Devils in the Premier League overall after Kelechi Iheanacho in September 2016 and Harry Kewell in November 1998.

Coutinho ensured the points were shared in what was his first Premier League appearance in 1477 days (for Liverpool vs Leicester City in December 2017).

Norwich City 2-1 Everton: Idah gets off the mark to put Benitez on the brink

The Canaries kick-started their bid for survival with a second win in six Premier League home games under Dean Smith – as many as they managed in their final 21 home games in the competition under previous manager Daniel Farke.

There were just 92 seconds between Michael Keane's own goal and Adam Idah's first Premier League strike, the hosts scoring as many times inside the opening 18 minutes as they had in their previous eight top-flight matches combined (one).

Idah's goal was his first in 27 Premier League appearances, while it was his first league goal since May 2021, when he scored in Norwich's final game of the Championship season.

The result meant Everton, who pulled one back through Richarlison, have won just 19 points from their 19 league games this season. Only twice previously have they had fewer at this stage of a Premier League campaign (17 in 1997-98 and 2005-06) and it looks as though Benitez's time may be up.

Wolves 3-1 Southampton: Traore off the mark as hosts' fine season continues

Wolves completed a top-flight double over Southampton for the first time since 1971-72, as well as winning three in a row against Saints in the top tier for the first time since October 1970.

Raul Jimenez and Conor Coady put them 2-0 up before the hour mark, with the latter's three Premier League goals coming from just four shots on target in 134 appearances.

Saints captain James Ward-Prowse scored his 12th direct free-kick goal in the Premier League to reduce the deficit – a haul bettered only by David Beckham (18).

However, Adama Traore's first goal in 22 top-flight appearances ensured Wolves picked up 31 points from their first 20 games of the season – their best return at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1979-80 (also 31 points) when they finished in sixth place.

Ralf Rangnick believes Manchester United took another "step forward" despite feeling as if they had lost after throwing away a two-goal lead in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

United found themselves 2-0 up in the 67th minute thanks to Bruno Fernandes' brace, his first-half opener a result of an Emiliano Martinez error and his emphatic second coming after Morgan Sanson's poor pass.

But it was a case of United being unable to get over the line, with Jacob Ramsey pulling one back before then teeing up Philippe Coutinho to net the crucial equaliser on his debut with eight minutes left.

United did control large parts of the match and arguably looked at their most fluent in attack under Ralf Rangnick, with Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga both threatening from the flanks.

But Rangnick could not hide his frustration at United failing to maintain their level into the dying stages.

"It is very difficult to find positives after these 95 minutes," he told Sky Sports. "I felt it was the best game since I came here, in the first half for 30 minutes, when we dominated the game. We had taken some steps forward but have a few things to do better.

"The plan was to press them in the midzone and we did that very well in the first 30 minutes, and control the ball, and those were the positives. When you are 2-0 up you have to defend better than we did in the last 15 minutes.

"We gave away too many balls at times in the last 15 minutes, we were not as compact as before and conceded the two goals. In the last 15 minutes before half-time we were not as courageous to step up, it was better in the second half and then you have to take the three points home. It feels like a defeat, to be honest.

"Right now it's very disappointing but what we showed was a step forward, but it's about getting the results, it feels like two points lost and given away."

Fernandes' first goal was only his second since September, with the midfielder – who wore the captain's armband – appearing to thrive a little more in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, missing out with a hip injury.

While he acknowledged the performance was better than some recent efforts, Fernandes was left bemoaning United's lack of ruthless in the final third, something Ronaldo may have been able to do something about.

"We got into the perfect position to score more goals and take the third goal and finish the game, but we don't get our chance on the counters and gave the chances to them," he added.

"They have good players up front and draw the game, it is tough to take because I think the game was under control.

"After our first goal they began to press us more, but still we had our chances and could have scored again. Sometimes the shot was not good, or the pass was not good and you start losing confidence, the game got more open and they got more space between the lines. With the quality of players they have up front, they hurt you.

"The performance was better than the result, more controlled but the main point is winning games and points. We deserved more, but it's not about deserving, it's about getting points.

"We still have a lot to improve but it is about performance and results together."

United remain seventh in the Premier League as a result of the draw.

Philippe Coutinho scored a late equaliser on his debut as Aston Villa recovered from two down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United at Villa Park on Saturday.

United looked set to seal a morale-boosting and hard-fought victory thanks to Bruno Fernandes' brace, but Villa fought back in the final 13 minutes to secure an unlikely point.

There was undoubtedly a hint of fortune about United's opener, an Emiliano Martinez howler allowing Fernandes to score for only the second time in the Premier League since September, but the Portugal star's second was an emphatic effort.

That looked as though it would be enough for United, but Jacob Ramsey scored and then teed up new loan signing Coutinho to rescue a draw with a dream debut goal.

It took United – who were without Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford due to injury – just six minutes to score, though Martinez gave them more than a helping hand, inexplicably allowing Fernandes' long-range strike squirm through his legs.

Villa came to life towards the end of the half, but David de Gea was equal to Emi Buendia's near-post header and debutant Lucas Digne's controlled strike.

Chances continued to flow at either end after the restart, with Anthony Elanga going close twice and Ramsey forcing De Gea into a smart save.

But Fernandes was less wasteful, his drive clattering in off the crossbar after a Morgan Sanson error led to Fred feeding United's captain.

Villa rallied, however. Ramsey pulled one back with a well-taken left-footed finish inside the box before playing an inch-perfect pass across goal for Coutinho to smash home five minutes later.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford were notable absentees from Manchester United's squad for Saturday's clash with Aston Villa.

Ronaldo missed the FA Cup third-round tie between the sides on Monday due to injury and the 36-year-old was not fit enough to feature at Villa Park, despite Ralf Rangnick's hopes on Friday that he would have the striker available.

Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho missed United's 1-0 victory over Villa, but both returned to United's bench for the Premier League clash.

However, there was no place among the substitutes for England international Rashford, who endured a difficult night at Old Trafford at the start of the week and has struggled for form all season.

The forward has netted just two Premier League goals in 11 appearances this term, starting only seven times in the top flight.

With Ronaldo and Rashford absent, and Anthony Martial not in the picture, Anthony Elanga was handed a full league debut, with Edinson Cavani leading the line.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, handed a debut to new signing Lucas Digne, who arrived in a reported £25million deal from Everton in the week.

Gerrard's other new acquisition – his former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho – took a place on Villa's bench.

Ralf Rangnick has told Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek to sit tight and wait for their chances to come at Manchester United.

The United interim boss, who expects to have Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire back for Saturday's Premier League match at Aston Villa, knows Henderson and Van de Beek have been considering leaving Old Trafford.

Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Rangnick made the case that goalkeeper Henderson and midfielder Van de Beek can be useful assets for the Red Devils over the closing months of the season.

He described Henderson as a "fantastic" shot-stopper, but recognised he wanted Premier League game time that cannot be guaranteed at United. The Englishman has played just twice for United this term, neither appearance coming in the league.

Rangnick also knows Van de Beek is hungry for first-team football for the sake of his Netherlands career, with the World Cup coming up in Qatar at the end of the year.

Addressing Henderson's situation initially, Rangnick said: "I told him that I would like him to stay because he's a fantastic goalkeeper. In training yesterday, he had another couple of fantastic saves.

"I really like to have him on board, as one of three top goalkeepers. I can fully understand that he wants to play because he's in an age where, as a goalkeeper, he should regularly play.

"On the other hand, we are still in three competitions, we need the three goalkeepers we have right now. I told him that, but I can also, on the other hand, understand his desire to get game-time elsewhere in the Premier League."

David de Gea has reasserted himself as United's first choice between the posts, after Henderson played 13 Premier League games last season, while the other senior goalkeeper on United's books is third-choice Tom Heaton.

Henderson was not involved in the FA Cup clash with Villa on Monday, when United took a nervy 1-0 win in the third round. De Gea started that game and Heaton was the substitute goalkeeper, with Rangnick saying it was illness that kept Henderson out of the game.

Van de Beek came off the bench in the 72nd minute to strengthen a midfield that was being over-run.

The former Ajax man could be practically assured of regular involvement at another club, but at United he has been used just seven times in the Premier League this term. All those appearances have been as a substitute, with Van de Beek spending a meagre total of 68 minutes on the pitch.

"It's the same situation as it is with Dean," said Rangnick. "I'm glad to have him in the squad."

The former RB Leipzig boss said he spoke to Van de Beek after training two weeks ago.

"I told him I would advise him to stay until the end of the season. He wants to play in the World Cup for his country and [Netherlands coach] Louis van Gaal obviously told him that in order to be a regular starter for the World Cup, he needs to regularly play for his team," Rangnick said.

"I can understand his desire to play; on the other hand, we have a lot of competition in our squad in exactly those positions."

United were without Maguire and Ronaldo for the cup clash with Villa, so to have them back adds experience and quality at each end of the pitch, albeit with neither man having been at the height of his powers in recent weeks.

Across his career, Ronaldo has been involved in 11 goals in nine Premier League starts against Villa (eight goals, three assists). That is the most goals he has scored (eight) and been involved in (11) against a specific opponent in the competition.

Jadon Sancho and Phil Jones should also be up for selection after being absent for the FA Cup game.

"I think they will be available," Rangnick said of his quartet. "They only trained yesterday for the first time, Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday.

"We have to wait for the final session this afternoon but as it seems right now, they should be available for tomorrow."

While the signs are positive there, United will be hampered by one-match suspensions for Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay that rule both out of the Villa Park game.

Villa have not won any of their last 22 home league games against United (D7 L15) since a 3-1 victory in August 1995. That ranks as the longest winless home run any side has had against another in English Football League and Premier League history, according to Opta.

However, Villa scored a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in September, with Bruno Fernandes missing a last-gasp penalty, and will be attempting to win consecutive league games against United for the first time since November 1976.

They last did the league double over the Red Devils in 1954-55. A United win would be their 300th away from home in the Premier League, making them the first side to reach that mark.

Lucas Digne has completed his move to Aston Villa from Everton.

Villa have secured a deal reportedly worth up to £25million for the France full-back, who moves to Villa Park on a long-term contract.

Digne becomes Villa's second signing of the January transfer window after Philippe Coutinho linked up with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard – now manager at Villa Park – on loan from Barcelona.

Villa confirmed Digne's arrival on their official website on Thursday and Gerrard added: "When Lucas became available we jumped at the opportunity to bring him to the club.

"To sign a player of his pedigree and quality in the January window is a great addition to our squad and his arrival excites me and everyone associated with Aston Villa."

Asked about Gerrard's influence in completing a move between Everton and Villa, Digne said: "It was the main factor. I came here for the manager.

"I had a very good meeting with him and we spoke a couple of times during this month. I feel his desire to win, to show his football as a manager – the attacking football, the possession. I feel it’s what I want and what I want to show to the fans."

Digne moved to Everton from Barcelona for a reported £18m in August 2018 and had been a fan favourite at Goodison Park.

However, the left-back has not featured for the Toffees since a 4-1 home defeat to Merseyside rivals – and Rafael Benitez's former club – Liverpool on December 1.

Digne had fallen out of favour following a rift with Benitez over tactics employed by an Everton side who have won just one of their past 12 Premier League matches.

The defender appeared to aim a parting shot at Benitez in a social media post on Wednesday, stating "sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair".

He had also been heavily linked with Chelsea, who are seeking a reinforcement in the position following a long-term injury to Ben Chilwell, while Newcastle United, West Ham, Inter and Napoli were also credited with an interest. 

What will Digne bring to Villa?

Having replaced Leighton Baines as first choice at Everton, Digne went on to be a creative fulcrum under Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti, both from set-pieces and open play.

Since making his Everton debut on August 11, 2018, Digne has created 211 chances in the Premier League, ranking him behind only Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold (267) among defenders.

Digne's 34 big chances created is the third most, behind Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, with his 18 league assists also only bettered by the Liverpool duo.

Alexander-Arnold (1,408) is also the only defender to have played more passes/crosses into the area than Digne (902), highlighting just how much of a persistent threat the Frenchman can be.

But on the defensive side of things, Digne has proven himself slightly more reliable in the tackle than Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, with the former Paris Saint-Germain full-back boasting a better success rate (63.2 per cent) than both in such situations.

That also translates to his duels involvement, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Charlie Taylor the only full-backs (minimum 50 games played) to have a better duel success rate than Digne's 59.4 (712/1,199) since the Everton man made his Premier League debut.

Matt Targett will likely lose his place to Digne, who even in a more restricted attacking role has still created 1.7 chances per 90 minutes this season, compared to Targett's 1.3.

Digne's 1.5 tackles is also an improvement on Targett's 1.1, though he has averaged fewer interceptions (1.1) per 90 minutes than either Targett or Villa right-back Matthew Cash.

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Ralf Rangnick will do a "good job" as interim manager, but the Portugal forward will not accept Manchester United aiming for anything less than third place.

Rangnick's appointment – until the end of the season before taking on a consultancy role – was initially praised as evidence United were attempting to modernise as a club, implementing a brand of football and identity that has been so successful elsewhere.

The German had been deemed the so-called "godfather of gegenpressing" and was seen by many as a shrewd hire given his reputation of developing clubs in the past both as a coach and a director.

But, even though United have only lost one of his seven matches in charge across all competitions, their performances have left a lot to be desired, and the idea of a collective and concerted pressing effort appears to remain foreign.

Prior to Rangnick's first game, United averaged 7.6 high turnovers per game in the Premier League – in his first two matches they recorded 12 and 11, respectively.

A trend emerged there, as the only occasion this season United had previously recorded more than 12 (13) was in Michael Carrick's first match against Chelsea. It would seem to be the classic 'new manager bounce' as they soon fell back into their old ways.

United's high turnover average under Rangnick in the league remains virtually identical (7.6) to what it was before, while they managed just three in Monday's fortunate 1-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa, suggesting his ideas in that regard simply are not getting across.

But Ronaldo is calling for patience, telling Sky Sports: "Since he arrived five weeks ago, he changed many things. But he needs time to put his ideas across to the players.

"It takes time, but I believe that he is going to do a good job. We know we aren't playing the best football, but we have many games to improve.

"Since he arrived I think in some points we are better, but he needs time. It's not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the culture, the system like that. I believe that he is going to do a good job.

"We have to be together. We're in the same boat. We have to believe that it is possible but like I said we have a long way to go."

United face Villa again on Saturday in the Premier League – a victory could potentially see them end the weekend three points behind fourth-placed West Ham, who have played two extra games.

Missing out on the top four would be a major blow to United given the amount of money spent in pre-season, though Ronaldo feels even fourth would be unacceptable.

Asked if they can reach the top four even without the correct attitude, Ronaldo said: "Impossible – I think it's the main point.

"I don't accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.

"I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not – new year, new life and I hope that we can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.

"We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I'm not going to mention it here because I don't think it's ethical on my part to say that.

"What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester United belongs to important things, so we have to change that.

"I don't want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I'm here to try to win, to compete.

"I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things."

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