Manchester United welcome rock-bottom Aston Villa on Saturday hoping to get back on track in the Premier League race after suffering a 3-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
The state of play ahead of this crucial match for the Red Devils is that they are four points behind Manchester City who are sitting fourth. With six rounds of play still to go in the season and with City playing away to Chelsea today it could be a great opportunity to close the gap as United attempt to qualify for the Champions League.
Louis van Gaal’s boys, however, will be brimming with confidence after defeating West Ham 2-1 midweek at Upton Park to make it through to the FA Cup semi-finals. The Dutch manager will be hoping his team are able to build on that result and go on a run and win all of their remaining matches in the league.
Villa, meanwhile, step into the fixture languishing at the bottom of the table and certainly need a miracle to stay up with anything but a win this weekend, otherwise, they will be condemned to relegation to the Championship. However, a win may not be enough if Norwich City snatches at least a point against Sunderland at the weekend.
Villa haven’t won a match in the league since they beat Norwich at home back in February, a frustrating run which has seen them losing 8 consecutive league fixtures to leave them on the brink of relegation.
The last meeting between these two teams at Old Trafford resulted in a convincing win 3-1 for the Red Devils, thanks to a brace from Ander Herera and another stunner from Rooney while Benteke got the goal for Villa. However the meeting earlier in the season at Villa Park remained much closer with the United were lucky to win the fixture 1-0 thanks to a goal from Adnan Januzaj.
Ander Herrera is expected to miss the game because of a foot injury. The severity of the injury suffered in Wednesday’s FA Cup win at West Ham has yet to be determined, but the Spanish midfielder seems likely to join Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw on the sidelines.
Phil Jones may start having played for the U21s on Monday and Wayne Rooney could relish his first Premier League outing since February 13 after coming off the bench at Upton Park.
Predicted Line-up: De Gea; Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Fosu-Mensah; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Mata, Rooney, Martial; Rashford
Villa will be without the service of Gabby Agbonlahor at Old Trafford after manager Eric Black revealed that he had placed the striker on a special fitness programme for the next two weeks. The striker missed the last couple of matches being suspended by the club for discipline problems.
The good news though for struggling Villa is that Jack Grealish and Adama Traore may play some part in the game after getting minutes for the U21s midweek.
Predicted Line-up: Guzan; Hutton, Clark, Lescott, Cissokho; Sinclair, Westwood, Lyden, Richardson; Gestede, Ayew
Key Stats –
Aston Villa have won none of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Manchester United.
United have lost just one of their last 40 Premier League matches against Villa (W29 D10).
Marouane Fellaini has scored four goals against Villa, more than any other opponent in the Premier League.
Louis van Gaal’s side have won their last four Premier League games at Old Trafford, keeping three clean sheets in that run, while Aston Villa are without a win in their last 15 Premier League away games.
There have been fewer goals scored at Old Trafford than at any other stadium in the Premier League this season.
It should be a cakewalk for Manchester United and we may get the chance to see a goal fest. Our prediction is 3-0 in favour of United.
Betting Odds –
Manchester win – 2/9
Draw – 5/1
Aston Villa win – 12/1