Manchester United face Aston Villa on week 32 of the Premier League season, at Old Trafford in an early kick-off this Saturday, after a 0-3 derby drubbing against Manchester City in midweek, which was their sixth home defeat this season. While Aston Villa endured a similar disappointment at home to Stoke, with a 1-4 defeat at this crucial stage of the season where every point matters. Whereas Manchester United are pushing for a Europa league spot, Aston Villa would be playing for survival which is not guaranteed yet, all the more so after a crushing home defeat against a team more or less at the same level.
Manchester United are having a tragic season, their worst in the Premier League era. While the manager David Moyes and the team grab the headlines almost every weekend, most of them for the wrong reasons, the team should be looking to get back to winning ways and should perhaps look to put in a string of wins together from now on. One victory against a lesser opponent, providing false hope and some kind of a false security to the fans and probably the manager himself, which has been quickly followed by a crushing defeat against a top team. This has been the story of Manchester United’s season. If they are to really push for that Europa League spot, which is effectively a 6th place finish, they need to sort their plummeting home form as quickly as possible.
Aston Villa, as unpredictable as ever, enjoyed a fantastic result against title-favorites Chelsea (Sorry Jose!), followed by a convincing defeat against Stoke City. As inconsistent and unpredictable as this Birmingham-based club are, Aston Villa can definitely get a result at Old Trafford, which would be a massive help as far as morale is concerned. If they could work their socks off for 90 minutes, as some of the lower mid-table teams have tried and succeeded in doing at the Theatre of Dreams, they could get a result.
The reverse fixture, which was played in December, saw Manchester United cruise to a 0-3 win, one of the better wins for the Champions this campaign.
David Moyes will have his skipper Nemanja Vidic back, available for selection after serving a 2-match ban, resulting from a sending-off against Liverpool. The Serbian will likely replace Rio Ferdinand at the back, alongside Jones, since both Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are doubtful and will have to be assessed prior to the game. While the likes of Giggs and Fletcher will hope to come into contention in midfield, as both of them are fit, as they were not involved in the derby game. Moyes should make a number of changes, with Danny Welbeck potentially moving into a central striking role having netted twice in the reverse fixture. Robin Van Persie will be out as he’s flown to Netherlands for urgent treatment from one of Europe’s top surgeons.
Lambert has got a few injury problems to deal with as both Karim El Ahmadi and Andreas Weimann were forced off in the first half against Stoke and will need to be assessed before the game. Paul Lambert will look to use Sylla, as the former is less likely to feature and Bacuna could move forward with Lowton coming in at right-back. Ciaran Clark will hope to come into contention after quite a lackluster performance from Nathan Baker last time out.
Manchester United have taken more points against Aston Villa than any team versus any opponent in Barclays Premier League history (100).
The Villans have failed to score in four of the last five Barclays Premier League games against United.
Man Utd will be missing Robin van Persie, who has scored five goals and assisted two more in his last five Premier League games against Aston Villa.
Manchester United have lost more Premier League home games this season (6) than in the previous three seasons put together (5)
Aston Villa have won just one of their last seven Premier League away matches (W1 D2 L4)
WAYNE ROONEY – MANCHESTER UNITED
Wayne Rooney has been the only bright spot in what has been a dull season for Manchester United. The highest paid player in the league has been delivering the goods, hitting double figures in both goals and assists for the club when others have struggled to make an impact in the team on a consistent basis.
He has always been a great scorer of goals and a scorer of great goals as well, as he scored off a ‘worldy’ strike against the Hammers that even produced a cheeky smile on Beckham’s face, reminding people what he can do. It was a strike that will definitely be shortlisted for the annual Goal of the Season awards.
He will once again be the difference against the Villains and Manchester United will be expecting him to deliver like he’s done for much of the season in the absence of Robin Van Persie if they are to get maximum points.
FABIAN DELPH – ASTON VILLA
Fabian Delph has been brilliant for Aston Villa with his Lampard-esque late runs into the box and the knack of popping up with unlikely but decisive goals. He scored a vital goal against Chelsea, which might even have a big say come the end of the season, thanks to that flick of his. He has played well against some of the top teams this season, notably in the 1-3 win against Arsenal on the opening day of the season and the home game versus Chelsea where he put in several tackles and broke down many attacks while capping off with a fine backheel flick that clinched the game.
If he can rattle arguably the best organised midfield in the league, I can’t see why he would not repeat the performance against United to add to their misery, thereby causing further upset. He has racked up some impressive numbers this season, 26 starts with 3 goals and 2 assists to his name. His amazing work-rate is proven by the fact that he has won the ball a combined amount of 194 times all over the park meaning he’s won the ball once every 12 minutes.
Aston Villa can upset the odds by getting a result against Manchester United as they will be the more determined side to win this tie and stay in the top flight, as each and every point will determine the fate of those bottom half teams. While Manchester United will look to bounce back as they always do and as mentioned earlier, if they are to fight for a European berth next season, they will have to improve their home form which is worse than Hull and Norwich.