Manchester United haven’t lost to Aston Villa in the league at Villa Park since 1995/96
Manchester United travel to Villa Park today hoping to bounce back from two home league defeat, both 1-0 losses to Everton and Newcastle United. United have also been dealt a massive blow with Robin van Persie missing the busy Christmas period with a thigh strain.
United were involved in a cracker of a game last year at Villa Park, winning the match 3-2 having been two goals down. Mexican striker Javier Hernandez scored a brace to claim all three points despite an impressive Aston Villa display. David Moyes will take the same again today.
We caught up with Jamie Cutteridge, who feels Paul Lambert is the right man for the job, Ashley Young is the best player to have played for Villa and Fabian Delph has been the best player by a mile this season.
1) How would you sum up Villa’s season so far?
Mixed. Very mixed. Wins against Arsenal, Man City and Southampton have been pretty impressive, but there have been some really odd performances. We struggled at home to Sunderland and the performance at Fulham last weekend was a downright travesty. Perhaps the biggest concern is that we’ve gone away from the passing football that was emerging towards the end of the last season and instead turned to hoofball.
2) Is Paul Lambert the right man to manage the club and what advise would you give him?
He is the right man, but he needs to keep showing progress. We’ve been unlucky with injuries thus far, but I’m not sure this season has been much better than the second half of last season (more on that in a second). He needs to trust his instincts, come up with a plan and stick with it, rather than flip-flopping and resorting to tactics that aren’t what he’s setting out to do.
3) Should you have cashed in on Benteke in the summer? Will he recapture his form?
That’s a really tough one, because hindsight is 20/20. After he scored 4 in 4 to start the season he looked like being the key man, but I think the reality is that we rushed him back from injury too quickly. He’s a quality player in desperate need of a goal, once he gets that, I’m sure he’ll be fine. And when he goes to the World Cup and massively inflates his value before leaving for *insert name of much bigger club here* we’ll all be winners. The reality is though, that his current form is the main problem in Villa’s recent performances.
4) Who has been your star performer this season?
Fabian Delph by an absolute mile. In the latter half of last year he was playing his best football for the club, but he’s gone on to the next level this season. There are aspects of his game that I’ve only been able to appreciate in person, but his spacial awareness, decision making and tenacity are more than enough to merit a place in the England squad (Cleverley!!!). But of course, he’s suspended this weekend. A special mention to Ron Vlaar who’s hugely improved this season, and has improved the back-line with him. His absence at Fulham was very telling.
5) Where do you think you’ll finish this season and who is going to win the league?
We’ll finish somewhere in that quagmire between 10th and 15th, with the placing in there being somewhat irrelevant as they’ll all be separated by about 3 points. I’ve no idea who wins the league. Well, I’ve narrowed it down to seven teams. If I had to have a guess now, I’d go for City – they’ll spend in January and sort out their away form.
6) Will United make top four this season?
If Rooney stays fit – yes. From what I’ve seen he’s playing as well as he ever has at the moment, him operating behind RVP (?!?!?!?!) should, SHOULD, be enough to overhaul the inevitable late-season slide of Liverpool, Everton and Spurs.
7) Can you see Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney staying at United if there isn’t an offer of Champions League football next season?
I don’t think they would, but I’m also not sure where they’d go. You’ll be fine, stop worrying.
8) United have a superb record, under Ferguson, at Villa Park. What will the score be?
No need to remind me, in fact, there’s no reason to include that, it’s barely related to the question you smug bastard. You’ll win 3-0 and your fans will invade the pitch, it’s an annual tradition.
9) How will Villa line up?
This is tricky to be honest, I can see Lambert shaking it up after last weekend and we’re very much dependent on the fitness of Luna and Vlaar. It wouldn’t surprise to see Kozak get a start over Benteke or Weinmann, with Sylla coming in for Delph and Chris Herd possibly dropping to the bench for Matt Lowton with some defensive rearranging.
10) Who is the greatest player you’ve ever seen at Villa and why? Also, favourite memory versus United.
Ha! Seriously, he was ruddy brilliant for a bit, unplayable at times. ENJOY IT SUCKAS. I’d have to go for Barry, his control of the game is something we’ve never really replaced, and he did for years. My favourite memory for United was the feeling between Phil Dowd (BASTARD) awarding the penalty in the League Cup final and him failing to send Vidic off, that was a nice few seconds. Either that or Gabby’s winner at OT in the same season. Glorious.