Manchester United displayed grit in abundance as they overcame Aston Villa 2-1 away at Villa Park on Sunday.
This was Erik ten Hag’s first away win against a top nine team since taking over. The visitors are only five points off Unai Emery’s men and six off Tottenham Hotspur in fourth.
The Red Devils started strongly and deservedly took the lead through Rasmus Hojlund but as has been the case very often this season, ending up relinquishing control soon after.
The game was rushed and it suited the home side as they threatened during every attack. Only Kobbie Mainoo showed tidiness with the ball at his feet.
Mainoo was tidy yet again
He invariably found a way to calm things down and took the right decision more often than not and was often seen urging his teammates to remain calm.
The academy graduate looks head and shoulders above certain teammates and no wonder, he has now started ten games in a row in all competitions and is the first name on the team sheet.
He had 52 touches of the ball and found a teammate 85 percent of the time, completing 34 out of 40 passes.
Four of those passes were key balls and the 18-year-old certainly has enjoyed a new lease of life playing further ahead.
He completed three out of his five long balls as well (stats from Sofascore).
It was in defence that the academy graduate shined as his team looked to be under immense pressure.
He made three tackles, intercepted one through ball and won four ground duels. The youngster also won one foul for his team.
With Gareth Southgate in attendance, Mainoo showed what he is capable of against a strong Villa side and has made a strong case for his inclusion for the March international games.
With the injury toll rising again, Ten Hag will be hoping his new midfield duo can keep this run up as the team looks to continue their winning run.