An opportunistic first half strike from Adnan Januzaj settled a largely uninspiring contest in the Midlands and gave United a second win from two games.
LVG had sprung something of a surprise by naming Januzaj in the side ahead of Ashley Young, but the gamble paid off as the winger, playing in a central role, made the decisive difference.
The Belgian, in his first start for six months in a Red shirt, scored from close-range after he got on the end of Juan Mata's clever pass as we took our unbeaten run at Villa Park to 20 matches.
Villa rarely threatened as we kept a second successive clean sheet and the victory lifted us to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since August 2013.
After a tentative start from both sides, the visitors took the lead when Belgian international Januzaj timed his run superbly to receive Mata's pass.
He then cut back inside on his right foot, past the sliding Micah Richards, and clipped a shot home via a deflection off Ciaran Clark.
Gabby Agbonlahor's header from a corner- well saved by Sergio Romero- was the only response Villa could muster in a match high in endeavor and energy but lacking in chances and cutting edge.
Memphis Depay has United's best opportunity to double the lead after the break, but curled his shot wide when clean through after Mata had played him in.
That proved to be the last noteworthy action of a disappointing contest that the Reds probably just about deserved the points from, as we won our opening two games of a league season for the first time since 2011.
United manager van Gaal said:
"I think we played better than last week, the start to the season is better than last year but that is no so difficult.
"I am pleased because last year we had one point and this year we have six, we kept the ball well in the first 20 minutes and scored a fantastic goal.
"After that we will a little bit nervous but in the second half we played very controlled football and I am very happy."
United Faithful Man of the Match: Daley Blind.
A close call between 'Mike' Smalling, Mata and Blind, but the Dutchman silenced his critics with a solid and dependable showing at centre-back to help keep Villa in check.
Overall team performance: 6.5/10