Manchester United vs Aston Villa
Barclays Premier League – Monday 22nd April, 2013 (20:00 KO) – Old Trafford
Streams: Watch Man Utd vs Aston Villa Live, Click here for online streaming links
Sir Alex Ferguson on player availability after the Stoke and West Ham games: “The last two away games have shown how determined we are to win the league. I’ve admired my team in these games… We’ve got a few bumps and bruises from Wednesday… we’re quite happy no one was seriously injured.”
Ahead of Aston Villa: “Every game now seems to be more important than the last one. When you get nearer to that line that’s the way it is. I have the same squad for Monday and hopefully we’ll pick the right team.”
This preview is being written having just witnessed Tottenham defeat Manchester City. This means one thing: beat Villa, win the title. The players will need no motivation for this one at all. In a way, having to win the game to claim the title on the night is probably better than only needing a draw; it should lead to a much more exciting, focused spectacle.
In terms of team news, Ashley Young remains on the sidelines and will therefore miss a clash with his former side. Paul Scholes will also play no part, despite being back in training. Hopefully, should the title be clinched on Monday, we will see the ginger genius at least one more time before the end of the season; it’s almost certainly his last.
So with Young and Scholes missing, Phil Jones unlikely to be deployed in a centre-midfield role at home against lowly opposition, and Anderson out of favour (and fitness), expect to see Michael Carrick partnered in midfield by either Ryan Giggs or Tom Cleverley. In an ideal world, Wayne Rooney could play there and allow Shinji Kagawa the role behind Robin van Persie. Antonio Valencia, finally rediscovering a modicum of decent form, should start on the right. Nani is fit again and could be due a start, too. If so, after a poor performance against West Ham, it would not surprise me to see Wayne Rooney benched. Media fallout to follow, of course.
At the back, David de Gea will start in goal and Patrice Evra will fill the left-back spot. The tombola will be deployed for the other 3 positions, with Rafael, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling (possibly) and Jonny Evans all available and vying for the spots. Your guess is as good as mine!
But let’s boil it down to simple facts: Win the game, Win title number 20.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Kagawa, Nani, van Persie
Home record: P16 W14 D0 L2 F40 A17 Pts42
Home form: W W W W W L
Home record vs Aston Villa: P87 W58 D17 L12 F185 A76
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert of his side’s trip to Old Trafford: “It’s going to be a fantastic place to play football, against the champions elect. If you don’t enjoy going playing there, there’s something wrong. If you can’t handle the pressure, you’re not going to be a footballer… It’s a game no-one expects us to get anything from but we’re certainly a goal threat.”
Villa will be boosted by the return of Gabby Agbonlahor after a recent groin injury. They will be missing, however, the long-term injured Richard Dunne, as well as the likes of Marc Albrighton, Chris Herd (foot) and Gary Gardner. Villa currently sit in 17th place in the table but are on a very decent run of form, having lost just 1 on their last 5 games, winning 3 of them. Despite being very much rooted in a relegation battle, they seem to be producing much better performances at just the right time.
Their chief goal threat will come in the form of 15-goal striker Christian Benteke, who has taken the league by storm in his first season in English football’s top flight. Attention should also be paid to tricky forward Andreas Weimann, who struck twice for Villa in United’s 3-2 win at Villa Park back in November.
This current Villa side is something of an enigma. They could very easily crumble under the Old Trafford floodlights allowing United a comfortable march to an easy victory and title number 20 – but they are just as capable of producing an upset, as their 3-1 win at Anfield earlier this season proves. If they do manage to pull of a historic win it will be the first time United have lost back-to-back home league fixtures since 2002. But that’s not going to happen, is it?
Predicted Aston Villa line-up: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Delph, Westwood, Bowery, Agbonlahor, Weimann, Benteke
Away record: P16 W4 D5 L7 F20 A35 Pts17
Away form: D D D L W W
Recent meetings at Old Trafford
United 4-0 Villa (15-04-12), United 3-1 Villa (01-02-11), United 0-1 Villa (12-12-09), United 3-2 Villa (05-04-09)
Anthony Taylor. The 34-year-old has overseen 22 Premier League matches this season, brandishing 53 yellow cards and 6 reds, awarding just a single penalty. He last took charge of a United fixture during February’s 2-0 win over QPR at Loftus Road.
Goals:(United) 75 – (Villa) 36
Conceded: 35 – 60
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (21) –Christian Benteke (15)
Assists: Wayne Rooney (9) –Christian Benteke, Charles N’Zogbia (4)
Most shots:Robin van Persie (124) –Christian Benteke (95)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (30/3) –Matthew Lowton (33)
Completed passes: Michael Carrick (2109) –Matthew Lowton (899)
Disciplinary: 48 yellows, 0 reds –67 yellows, 2 reds
Average possession: 56.6% – 45.3%
Pass success rate: 85.5% –77.1%
The last time United failed to score in a Premier League home game was an incredible 65 games ago. The opponents? Aston Villa.
Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in 2009 represents their only win over the United in the last 34 league meetings.
Should Wayne Rooney feature he will make his 19th appearance for the reds vs Aston Villa – the same as Sir Bobby Charlton.
The match will mark the 60th occasion Sir Alex Ferguson has taken on the Villains.
In their last 20 league visits to Old Trafford, Aston Villa have scored a paltry 10 goals.
Aston Villa have taken 10 points from the last 15 available and have won their last two away matches.
Christian Benteke has scored 10 goals in his last 13 league appearances. He is 2 goals away from equalling Dwight Yorke’s club record Premier League tally of 17 in a season.
United are still undefeated in 20 of the last 21 matches in the Premier League.
United have scored at least 3 goals in 5 of the last 6 home matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
WIN THE GAME, WIN THE TITLE
Score Prediction: United 2-0 Aston Villa