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Aston Villa vs Manchester United: Match Preview

Stadium: Villa Park

Referee: Kevin Friend

Kick-off: 11:00 PM IST, Saturday, 9th of November

Table toppers Manchester United return to their favoured hunting ground, Villa Park, looking to maintain the momentum they have created with crucial wins over the last two weekends. With second placed Chelsea hosting Liverpool, and third placed City facing a potent Tottenham side, United have the easiest fixture of the top three, and will be hoping to stretch their lead if possible.

Aston Villa, on the other hand, have been depleted by injuries, and will not be looking forward to the visitors from Manchester. Villa have not beaten United at home in 17 years, and their chances of doing so this year appear quite bleak. A woeful start to the season sees them sitting in 17th position, and while they might finish much higher in the table, their renaissance is unlikely to begin against the rampant Reds.

Form

Aston Villa: L L D W W

Aston Villa have been miserably below par thus far in the season, with just 9 points from 10 games. This has partly to do with the fact that some of their key performers like Petrov, Dunne, and Bent have been afflicted by injury, and have tipped the scales in the opposition’s favour. And as they continue to be sidelined, Villa fans will rightly worry about their team’s chances against United. Paul Lambert’s side have, however, won their first league game in six with a narrow 1 – 0 victory in their previous game against Sunderland, and will have their tails up, playing in front of home fans.

Manchester United: W W L W W

United, on the other hand, have had a fantastic run of results lately, barring the League Cup game against Chelsea, and will arrive at Birmingham expecting to win. With victories over Chelsea, and Arsenal propelling them to first place, United have shown their class, putting in commanding performances, particularly in the latter game. Luck has also been on their side, as the midweek victory against Braga shows, where United left Portugal with a very flattering 3 – 1 victory, when, in fact, a 1 – 1 draw could have been a very probable result. But with an extremely talented attacking lineup, nobody will begrudge United a bit of luck.

Injuries, Concerns & Suspensions

Aston Villa: Stiliyan Petrov, Charles N’zogbia, Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gary Gardner, Eric Lichaj, Chris Herd, Joe Bennet, Nathan Baker.

Manchester United: Shinji Kagawa, Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones, Nani, Jonny Evans.

Key Clashes

Robin van Persie vs Brad Guzan

While Aston Villa are striking partner Wayne Rooney’s preferred prey with 12 goals scored against, it has been Robin van Persie who has been in prime goal scoring  form for United this season. Playing in front of Rooney, van Persie has notched up a total of 11 goals thus far, including 3 in his last 3 games. With 14 goals conceded thus far, the same as United, Aston Villa’s problems have been more up front than at the back. This has been in part due to some good ‘keeping by Brad Guzan, who has established himself in Shay Given’s spot, and the American will need to be on top form if he wants to deny the Dutchman his 9th league goal of the season.

Christian Benteke vs Rio Ferdinand

Young German forward, Christian Benteke has been a star performer for Villa this season, having signed from Belgian club Genk, and has scored 4 times for the Villains. He has been in good touch lately, with a couple of excellent performances over the past 2 weekends that yielded a goal and an assist. Rio Ferdinand has recovered well from a couple of hiccups early in the season, and put in some solid performances. However, the defender did turn 34 this Wednesday, and those aging legs might well be given a good runaround by the 21-year-old Benteke.

What to expect

A slow, tactical start to the match, but an eventual United victory. Aston Villa have had major problems scoring goals, and have managed to find the net only 8 times in their 10 games while United have scored over three times as many, with 26. The gulf in class appears to simply be too great to cross, and Villa fans might do well to prepare themselves mentally to witness defeat; a somewhat regular result for Villa in this fixture.

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