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Played
February 1, 2011 8:00 PM GMT
Old Trafford — Manchester
Referee:‬ C. Foy‎
Attendance:‬ 75256‎
 
Darren Bent 59′
45′ Wayne Rooney
 
 

Manchester United - Aston Villa Preview: Darren Bent set to take on Vidic and Ferdinand as hosts welcome back first choice defence

By Gill Clark

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he will revert back to his usual defence after changing his entire back five for the FA Cup win over Southampton.

Rafael has recovered from concussion suffered at Blackpool, Patrice Evra will also return having missed the FA Cup clash due to a family bereavement while key trio Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar are also expected to feature.

Up front Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney are both expected to start after being left on the bench against Southampton, although Javier Hernandez’s recent goals mean the Mexican is pushing hard for a first-team place.

Possible starting XI: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs; Berbatov, Rooney.


Aston Villa


Record signing Darren Bent will return to the Villa team having been ineligible for their FA Cup win over Blackburn Rovers.

Defenders Richard Dunne and James Collins should also return after missing the cup tie, while Villa’s other new recruit, Jean Makoun, may partner Stiliyan Petrov in midfield.

Possible starting XI: Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Clark; Albrighton, Petrov, Makoun, Downing; Bent, Agbonlahor.

Comeback kings

Manchester United have made life difficult for themselves in recent fixtures, having to come from behind to beat both Blackpool and Southampton, which may just evoke memories of their last fixture against Aston Villa.

In November, goals by Ashley Young and Marc Albrighton had given the Midlanders a two-goal lead which they maintained until the 81st minute when Federico Macheda popped up to grab one back before Nemanja Vidic completed the recovery to snatch a point.

Whether the league leaders will be quite so generous again remains to be seen. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have conceded just seven goals at home so far this season, the best record in the top flight, and only West Brom have managed to deprive them of all three points on their own turf.

Hat-trick Houllier

Aston Villa, meanwhile, are showing signs of improvement having eased away from the drop zone with important wins over Manchester City and Wigan Athletic before making it three on the bounce by knocking Blackburn Rovers out of the FA Cup.

Yet to take anything from Old Trafford they will need to improve their away form which has seen them win just twice so far this season at struggling Wigan and Wolves.

Indeed a win at Old Trafford will make it a hat-trick of away wins for the season and they will fancy their chances having won at United last season when a first-half goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor was enough to secure victory.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Edwin van der Sar Goalkeeper
16John O'SheaDefender
5Rio FerdinandDefender
15Nemanja VidicDefender
3Patrice EvraDefender
17NaniMidfielder
24Darren FletcherMidfielder
16Michael CarrickMidfielder
11Ryan GiggsMidfielder
9Dimitar BerbatovStriker
10Wayne RooneyStriker
13Anders LindegaardGoalkeeper
10Michael OwenStriker
14Javier HernándezStriker
12Chris SmallingDefender
35Fabio Da SilvaDefender
8AndersonMidfielder
18Paul ScholesMidfielder
24Brad FriedelGoalkeeper
2Kyle WalkerDefender
19James CollinsDefender
5Richard DunneDefender
6Ciaran ClarkDefender
12Marc AlbrightonMidfielder
19Stilian PetrovMidfielder
17Jean II MakounMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
39Darren BentStriker
18Ashley YoungMidfielder
33Andy MarshallGoalkeeper
-Emile HeskeyStriker
11Gabriel AgbonlahorStriker
8Robert PiresMidfielder
14Nathan DelfounesoStriker
20Nigel Reo-CokerMidfielder
24Carlos Javier CuéllarDefender
Probable Lineups
Edwin van der Sar 1
John O'Shea 16
Rio Ferdinand 5
Nemanja Vidic 15
Patrice Evra 3
Nani 17
Darren Fletcher 24
Michael Carrick 16
Ryan Giggs 11
Dimitar Berbatov 9
Wayne Rooney 10
Brad Friedel 24
Kyle Walker 2
James Collins 19
Richard Dunne 5
Ciaran Clark 6
Marc Albrighton 12
Stilian Petrov 19
Jean II Makoun 17
Stewart Downing 19
Darren Bent 39
Ashley Young 18
Prediction
The league leaders continue to win without looking at their best but will surely need to improve on recent displays if they are to despatch an improving Aston Villa.

Villa were a little unlucky not to beat United at Villa Park back in November but the hosts’ formidable home record means anything other than a win for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will be considered a shock.
Editor's Prediction
Results
 
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18 6
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
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Manchester United
15 2
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
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15 0