Manchester United vs. Aston Villa preview and line up

Phil Jones scores vs. Villa
Manchester United could be crowned Champions if they beat Aston Villa on Monday night

Manchester United have an opportunity to win the league title on Monday night with a win over relegation threatened Aston Villa. United were involved in an epic comeback back in November, beating Villa 3-2. Earlier in the season, United made a habit of going behind before fighting back to win the tie. With Manchester City losing 3-1 at Spurs on Sunday, United have the opportunity to win an unprecedented twentieth league title. Here we discuss the match preview with a great view from the opposition, team news, potential United line up and a prediction. We welcome comments from both sets of fans.

A view from the opposition

As usual, we have put together a great View from the opposition ahead of the match. We caught up with Jamie Cutteridge and asked him about the 82 European Cup winning team, Lambert’s approach and if he thinks Villa will avoid the drop.

1) How would you sum up Villa’s season?

That’s tough. Really tough. In fact, it’s basically impossible to judge until the end of the season. If we stay up, with the side Lambert is building and the football we’re starting to play, then it’s been a good one. If we go down, he’s over-reached himself. We’ve seen glimpses of what that team could be (the first 60 minutes against United, the whole game at Anfield), but we’ve also seen some horror shows (being knocked out of the cups by Bradford and Milwall, 8-0 at Chelsea).

2) Do you think you’ll avoid the drop?

Gun to my head? Yes. But after the results thus far this weekend I’m not confident. In fact it’s looking more and more likely to go down to us and Wigan. And we’re at Wigan on the last day of the season. I’m terrified just thinking about it.

3) What are your thoughts on Paul Lambert?

Three months ago I wanted him gone. The team wasn’t working, his in-game changes seemed to have a consistently negative impact, I was fuming. But he seems to have turned it around. Yes we still struggle to hold a lead and his substitutions are occasionally baffling, but he’s got the team believing in themselves, and if they stay up then the side he’s built have the makings of something to be proud of. (That may sound ridiculous, but in the era where Premier League teams are built overnight with oil money, supporting a side where players are being brought through and developed is pretty pleasing. As long as we stay up.)

4) Villa’s record is pretty poor at Old Trafford, how do you think you’ll do Monday night?

I’ve written it off as a loss. But despite that, it’s really important. The hammering at Chelsea shattered the young side’s confidence and our next two games saw us concede seven without scoring. We can’t afford another mental blow in the run-in. If we lose 2-0 but put up a fight I’ll be happy.

5) Who has been your best player this season? And the worst?

The best is tougher than you may think. Benteke has obviously been a revelation, but Brad Guzan has kept us in endless amounts of games and not given Shay Given a look in. Andi Weimann also deserves a lot of credit and Ashley Westwood has been a revelation in the middle. But Benteke edges it from Guzan. As for the worst, it’s hard to pick on individuals as the side is still so young. (Steven Ireland aside. Ahem.) But if I had to name two players I’m most disappointed in I’d go for Barry Bannan and Ciaran Clark. Both have shown promise but both have come up short this year while more inexperienced players have forced them out of the side. We expected a lot from the two of them and they haven’t delivered.

6) How do you think you’ll line up?

The back five feels fairly settled at the moment. Guzan-Lowton-Vlaar-Baker-Bennett. Westwood and Delph will anchor the midfield while Gabby (if fit) and Weimann will support Benteke. Lambert may stick N’Zogbia in as the extra midfielder, Bowery for some youthful muscle or perhaps Sylla (‘Who?’ is entirely the right question) for a bit more midfield presence.

7) What have you made of United this season?

I don’t really know. On their day City seem a better side but more than any other this feels like a textbook Fergie team who can get results when they’re not playing well. It’s a cliche, but those things are cliches for a reason. Obviously players like De Gea and Rafael have taken big steps forward, Carrick is getting some overdue attention and RVP is terrifying, but the reality is that it isn’t a great United team from what I’m saying, just a sodding good one.

8) If you could take one player from United, who would it be?

Have you still got Macheda? I’d take him in an instant to stop him scoring against us. Is it too late to ask for Dwight Yorke back? But honestly, probably Carrick or Vidic. I know I should say RVP but scoring goals hasn’t been an issue this season, but experience and a cool head has been.

9) What’s your favourite ever United vs Villa match?

Gosh. They all just bring back painful memories. That 3-2 comeback in the cup still haunts me. I’d plump for our 1-0 win at OT a couple of seasons ago. I took a couple of United fans up with me and we all sat in the Villa end. They were giving it the biggun all the way up and were silent on the way home. Glorious. Plus Gabby scoring a winner never fails to make me happy.

10) Give us a fact about the 82 European Cup winning side.

Our starting goalie that day was subbed in the opening 10 minutes but still picked up his second European cup winners medal. His name? Jimmy Rimmer, substitute keeper for United in 68.

Bet £20 on United and get £20 free to bet on the fixture against Aston Villa on Monday night.
A £20 bet on United to win 3-0 wins you £240
A £20 bet on Shinji Kagawa to score the first goal wins you £140
A £20 bet on Robin van Persie to score first and United win 3-0 wins you £340

Team News

Manchester United
Ashley Young misses the vist of his former club after picking up an ankle injury in the Manchester derby. Young will not feature again this season and many are doubting whether Paul Scholes will return from a knee injury, with ex-skipper Bryan Robson concerned that the midfield genius could retire in the summer. Darren Fletcher is a long term injury absentee.

Aston Villa
Gabriel Agbonlahor is a major doubt for Paul Lambert’s side and faces a late fitness test on a groin strain. Agbonlahor injured himself in the victory over Stoke City, which forced him to miss the game last weekend against Fulham. Gary Gardner is back in training, however – will most likely feature next season after suffering knee ligament damage. Chris Herd, Marc Albrighton and Richard Dunne are all out of the fixture.

Potential Manchester United lineup


Conclusion and prediction

Manchester United have a very good record over Aston Villa and thumped the midland club 4-0 last season. Earlier in the season, a Javier Hernandez inspired performance helped United to a 3-2 victory, having gone two goals behind. Villa’s last win over United came in the 2009/10 season, when Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the only goal of the match. United were suffering from a defensive injury crisis in the December of 2009, which saw Darren Fletcher fill in at right back – however, Villa were worthy winners on the day.

Villa have won four games away from home this campaign. Sunderland, Liverpool, Reading and Stoke City have all suffered home defeats at the hands of Aston Villa. The relegation threatened club’s top goal scorer this season is Belgian forward Christian Benteke, who has been a revelation in his debut season. Villa have a young side, who would have suffered a blow to confidence after the 8-0 defeat away at Chelsea – however, Lambert’s financial constraints by the board means he has to rely on his younger players.

Sir Alex Ferguson may have rested the likes of Rio Ferdinand ahead of the trip to Arsenal next Sunday, however – like in the 2-0 win over Everton – the manager can change the team based upon other results. With City losing 3-1 to Spurs, United can wrap the title up tomorrow night in front of a home crowd. Wayne Rooney was poor away at West Ham last week, so Shinji Kagawa could fill in behind Robin van Persie – rather than being out on the left flank. Villa should avoid the drop, however – United will be too strong Monday evening and are closing in on a twentieth league title.

Prediction: Manchester United 4-1 Aston Villa

6 Comments on Manchester United vs. Aston Villa preview and line up

  1. Would hate to see Jones back alongside carrick in midfield tonight. Its safe to say it didn’t really work against west ham away and its never actually done the lad any justice to be fair. He’s not a midfielder and we all know it. Hopefully a midfielder like cleverley or even Anderson(I see he’s back in training…was he even injured? Hmm nobody knows) can get the nod. Both players haven’t been involved much so I don’t expect a good game from whoever might get the nod. And its understandable to be fair. Not easy coming back into the side…
    Would be great to see Nani get a couple games under his belt for the reamainder of the season. Its fair to say quite a few players will be playing for their United careers and will no doubt want to impress with the little amount of games remaining!
    Can’t believe we can win it tonight! Unreal! Go on lads, av it. Hope we win it in style too! Oh Robin van Persie…
    #20’s on its way….

    Typical usual bollocks from Fergie yesterday on transfers etc. Is it just me or does he seem to incredibly deluded?!?! Fuck sakes. Its getting beyond ridiculous now. Don’t get your hopes up of seeing a quality CM arriving in the summer folks. As much as I respect and love SAF, he’s losing it. As a football club, I don’t see us going forward to be honest. Changes NEED to be made. Players need to be sold and players need to come in! A CM + a proper LEFT footed winger have to arrive in the summer. There’s no doubt about it. But SAF doesn’t seem to think so. Its amazing isn’t it. I’m not gonna lie when I say SAF leaving might not actually be the ‘end of the world’. Honestly. Imagine what a top class manager, some1 like Mourinho could do to our team. I look at the top teams midfields…the likes of barca and madrid etc. Madrid have Alonso, khedira, modric AND Kaka. That’s unbelievable if u ask me. Barca have iniesta, xavi, Fabregas, Busquets AND Song. You can even add Mascherano to the mix even though he plays in defense mainly for them these days. My word, we’re miles behind these teams in terms of midfields. Midfield is crucial. Simples.who do we have? A 38 year old player who’s actually a left winger, scholes who hasn’t played in months and looks likely to retire again, ando(as much as I rate the guy) who struggles with fitness and can’t seem to get a run of games, cleverley as well. He just can’t seem to nail down a starting place. Is he good enough? That’s a whole question on its own. Powell is young and hasn’t had a chance so you can’t really add him to the list + looks likely he’ll go on loan next season. Carricks been the sole midfielder who is simply undroppable. Credit to the lad. He’s been a true servant to the club during his years at United. Quality player! Quality midfielder! But he needs a world class partner just infront of him. Some1 who can create, pass, run at teams(like Toure) and score goals. Seems to me that SAF is just too nice. He is. It took him forever to get rid of the likes of park, o’shea, brown, gibson etc. He needs to wake up. And fast. Otherwise I’m afraid we aint gonna see another European Cup retun to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet anytime soon. This is just my opinion and how I view things. That’s all.

  2. Max,

    True that. I am actually perplexed why United does not buy a proper CM. We have been facing this challenge for like donkey’s years now. Most of the times when we lost a match, it was because our midfield was overrun by the opposition.

    I respect SAF but what made him start Giggs alongside Carrick against City while playing against the likes of Toure. We need a strong and imposing CM who can possibly create chances . There are some decent ones in the market. Strootman, Wanyama etc. would be good. Dembele would have been an ideal signing. I seriously don’t understand why SAF is reluctant to buy one.

    Pogba would also have become an awesome player. Look at the way he is playing for Juventus. We should have tried to retain him properly.

    Anyways, I am not much concerned about the wings. Zaha can play well on the left flank. Valencia is slowly improving – which is a good signal. I would ideally want a winger only if Nani/ Young leave. Kagawa seems to be getting a grip on his role on the left and sometimes Welbs can also play there. We also need to understand that the club needs to manage salaries and player expectations. So, too many players will not be good.

    But having said that, we need a CM. I hope SAF opens his eyes and realizes we need someone in the midfield.

  3. Dont think SAF will leave rooney out. Possible line up :
    De Gea,
    Rafa, Rio, Vida, Evra
    jones, Carrick
    Valencia, Wazza, Kagawa

    and from the Previous comment: ” As much as I respect and love SAF, he’s losing it. As a football club, I don’t see us going forward to be honest.” Well, I can only see us going forword. I dont think u understand how the club Man United operates. We have a very bright future ahead. Lots of young players are comming through. Cleverly, Welbz, Jones, Smalling, Rafa, Fabio, De gea, Chicha. and there is Zaha, from next season. Will and Micheal Keane has top class potential along with Nick Powell, Adnan Januzaj, Matts Deahli, Cole, Tom Thorp. I dont think future is a problem for at least. Yeah, i agree we need a top class CM, why go spends blindly when we the resources to make one!!

  4. SAF is simply taking the mickey out of all of us. Its a piss take. He buys rvp(ok yes the lad has been unreal for us and has prob won the league for us too + carrick and a more solid defense), zaha for millions of pounds when we already have 3 wingers at the club, jones who we never even needed, powell who he never gives a game to INSTEAD of buying a quality midfielder. I can’t quite understand his way of thinking. And in his presser it sounded like there is genuine interest in Lewandowski. Bloody hell. Where will he fit in? I just can’t see either Wazza or Hernandez leaving. Its ridiculous. We haven’t bought a midfielder ever since Hargreaves and Ando. If he thinks Cleverley is the solution, then why isn’t he playing him. Its laughable to be honest. We aint gonna move forward until our midfield is on a par with the worlds best. Simples. We aint gonna win in Europe again until this happens.

  5. Max,

    Our three wingers this season have been varying shades of horrid. Zaha is being brought in to try to freshen things up and give us options. Neither Rooney, Welbeck or Kagawa are natural wingers – but all have found time on the wing this season precisely because none of Nani, Young or Valencia have impressed this season consistently.

    Cleverley is out of favour – and perhaps rightly so. RFFH posted some good thoughts a while back: stamina questions, his goal return, physical size. Perhaps he isn’t the answer, and perhaps its why he isn’t playing at the business end of the season. I’m not convinced Jones is the answer either – I prefer him in defense. With that said, I do agree with you regarding the midfield – I feel we’ve come to rely too heavily on Carrick, and I think we’ve looked quite ordinary in the games he’s been rotated out for. Its been on the agenda for quite a while – perhaps Pogba may have grown into the role, but it wasn’t to be. I wouldn’t disagree with the policy of having players prove themselves before bringing them into the team. Too much money too young brings its own problems.

    Lewandrowski – We’ll wait and see. I would trust Fergie’s judgement one way or the other. I wouldn’t have said we “needed” RVP last year, but look how that has worked out! Thats why Fergie is in the chair and not me. The man certainly isn’t taking the mickey

  6. @max – the club have spoken about Powell and why he’s not been loaned/played. If he hadn’t have picked up an injury and missed a couple of months around December-February he’d have gone out on loan. Instead they felt he’s best suited getting his fitness back with us and playing with our U21s/training with our first team until the end of the season. Pretty difficult to justify playing a kid who’s learning a new position over Carrick and whoever else has had to fill in at CM. He’s been on the bench a few times and I imagine if we win tonight he’ll feature in some of the final games but hard to argue against how he’s been used or not been used the last couple of months.

    As for Cleverley – think he’s managed him quite well. Having missed most of last season it’s his first proper season in our first team and it’s been pretty evident that the pace has caught up with him at times. Every time he’s looked exhausted, Fergie has pulled him out of the first XI for 3-4 games which is quite sensible management. He’s probably/hopefully due a return tonight. He’s not helped by the fact there’s no one to properly rotate him with, as you rightly point out.

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