The Colombian midfielder didn't stand out in the 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford but there were some positives to take from his return to the line-up.
Carlos Sanchez was back in the Aston Villa starting XI for the first time in six weeks for Saturday's match at Manchester United but his reintroduction couldn’t produce the desired effect on the result.
United’s in-form Ander Herrera opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with a low shot following Daley Blind’s cut-back pass, before captain Wayne Rooney doubled their lead 11 minutes from the end to put the home side on course for three points.
Christian Benteke managed to pull one back just 94 seconds later to give Villa some hope of a comeback but Herrera grabbed his second at the death to seal Louis van Gaal’s men a 3-1 win.
The visitors had just 23 per cent of possession on the afternoon, while managing four shots compared to United’s 19, but were able to stifle their opponents for long spells with some resolute defending.
Sanchez, who was making his second start of Tim Sherwood’s reign with United loanee Tom Cleverley ineligible and fellow midfielder Ashley Westwood injured, proved one of the main reasons for that, as the tough-tackling Colombian did a solid job of shielding the back-four, sticking tight to Marouane Fellaini and cutting out attacks through the middle.
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As has been the case since his August arrival from Elche, though, the World Cup veteran's decision-making on the ball left a lot to be desired at times, while there were one or two moments when he looked a step slow for the Premier League pace.
Now eight months into his Villa career, that might be concerning to some, considering his age, but it should be noted that he was looking like a bargain signing at £4.7 million throughout the winter, until a poor performance in the 5-0 defeat at Arsenal led to his benching under the since-departed Paul Lambert.
Ahead of matches against Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur, it might not be a bad idea to keep his defensive nous in the line-up for some much-needed balance, although Sherwood likely has other Cleverley-shaped ideas in mind.