Aston Villa v Manchester United Preview | Team News, Key Men & Stats

Aston Villa v Manchester United Preview | Team News, Key Men & Stats

Come Saturday evening, Aston Villa will host high-flying Manchester United at their fabled Villa Park on game-week 17. Villa go into this game on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat away at the Hawthorns to local foes West Bromwich Albion. As unpredictable as they have been in recent seasons, Paul Lambert’s men looked like they had finally turned the corner and ended their miserable winless run with a victory against Palace away from home. They followed that with an impressive home win against Leicester City, but stumbled again last weekend against West Bromwich. With just 5 wins so far, the Villains are flirting with the relegation spots – 5 points from the drop zone, which could further decrease if they fail to get something out of this game against the Red Devils, making this a very crucial tie for the home side.

vilvsutd

Meanwhile, it’s another 3 points in the bag for Louis Van Gaal’s men, with Manchester United inflicting a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend making it their sixth win on the bounce. That result took them to the heady heights of third place with a 5-point gap now existing between them and the reigning champions Manchester City. The Red Devils have not been particularly impressive away from home this campaign and have struggled to get good results on their travels but considering their last two away scalps are Arsenal and Southampton they will go into this game hugely confident. In addition to that, Villa Park over the years has been a happy hunting ground for Manchester United as the visitors have never been beaten there for two decades now and with the form they are in at the moment, it is likely that the streak continues.

When the two sides last met in the same fixture an year ago, Manchester United came out on top with a 3-0 victory, thanks to a brace from Danny Welbeck and the third and final goal from Tom Cleverley who is now on loan at Aston Villa.

Team News

Aston Villa

Paul Lambert is boosted by the return of their skipper Ron Vlaar to the squad for the West Brom game, but had to watch from the bench until the 78th minute due to Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore forging a decent enough partnership in the Dutchman’s absence. Ex-Manchester United man Kieran Richardson and Alan Hutton are serving suspensions, while United loanee Tom Cleverley is ineligible to play against his parent side.

Manchester United

Injuries have become a custom at Manchester United this season as Louis Van Gaal will miss Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw for Saturday’s encounter. Falcao though is tipped to be handed a long awaited start on Saturday. Full-back Rafael is also expected to be available for contention. Angel Di Maria has returned to full training and could find himself on the bench during the weekend.

Interesting Numbers

  • Aston Villa’s struggles in front of goal are well documented and the side has managed to find the net only ten times so far – one less than Burnley, making them the lowest scorers in all four divisions of English football.
  • United have drawn six and won 12 of their 18 league games at Villa Park between the 1996-97 and 2014-15 seasons and have never been beaten once during that period.
  • The Villains have not won any of the last 18 Premier League home games against the Red Devils (D6 L12). Only Sunderland at home to Liverpool (20 games between 1959 and 2002) have recorded a longer run without a home win against a specific opponent in English league history.
  • Wayne Rooney has scored more Barclays Premier League goals against Aston Villa than he has versus any other opponent (12).

Key Men 

Gabriel Agbonlahor – Aston Villa

In 15 appearances so far, the pacy customer has scored 3 goals and created 8 other chances, though none of them turned out to become assists. Aston Villa this season have been visibly poor in terms of putting the ball into the back of the net and Gabriel Agbonlahor has been at the centre of it. He’s registered just 13 shots in total with only 7 having hit the target and 3 of those eventually beating the goalkeeper. His passing accuracy also flatters to deceive with just 73% of his passes find a teammate successfully. Although he’s not in the form of his life ahead of Saturday’s game, his pace – being his weapon of choice – could be utilised effectively to hurt United if they can capitalise on the chances they could possibly get on the break against a team that still has got a fair few defensive issues to deal with.

Juan Mata – Manchester United

Juan Mata hasn’t exactly reproduced his scintillating form at Chelsea, which earned him two back to back Player of the Year awards at the London club, but he’s been nothing short of productive at Manchester United. For a midfielder, his goal return is fantastic with the Spaniard having scored 5 goals already; he has also chipped in with crucial assists this season. He’s created a staggering 18 chances in 13 appearances that includes 2 assists. He’s been an able link in the midfield so far and serves and almost sets the tone of the team whenever he plays alongside new signing Ander Herrera. With a 92% pass accuracy, Mata has also been efficient in his shooting attempts with 55% of the shots bang on target. If Manchester United are to get the best out of their star strikers in Van Persie, Rooney and possibly Falcao on Saturday, the Spaniard should be given the ball more often to see him unlock the defence come the weekend.

Prediction

Aston Villa struggle to score. Manchester United are unconvincing at the back barring their goalkeeper. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ball is played in the middle of the park the whole game.

Away side to make it seven wins in seven before Christmas.

Aston Villa 1-3 Manchester United