Manchester United - Aston Villa Preview: Red Devils can go within three points of 20th title
Sir Alex Ferguson's side have just begun to stutter of late but are still well clear at the top of the table and should have enough to see off Paul Lambert's improving side
By Adam Mazrani
Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa
Rooney, Van Persie
Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett
Westwood, Delph, N'Zogbia
Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
Sir Alex Ferguson may look to reshuffle his pack slightly ahead of the visit of Aston Villa.
Jonny Evans may come in for either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic, who have now played two games in a row. Vidic could be the one to miss out, after Sir Alex revealed he suffered bruising against West Ham.
The likes of Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs and Nani are all pushing for recalls in midfield. Paul Scholes (knee) remains out, while Ashley Young (ankle) is out for the season, so will miss the visit of his former team.
For the visitors, Paul Lambert may look to name an unchanged side from the one that has impressed against Stoke and Fulham in recent weeks.
Ciaran Clark is available but Nathan Baker may still be preferred in central defence. Senior striker Gabriel Agbonlahor may recover from a thigh injury to take his place in attack, with Jordan Browery dropping to the bench.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester United have only lost one of their last 40 meetings with Aston Villa in all competitions.
- Villa's only victory during that run in December 2009 under Martin O'Neill was when Gabriel Agbonlahor (pictured right) scored in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.
- From that matchday squad, only Agbonlahor, Richard Dunne and Brad Guzan remain at the club.
- United, on the other hand still retain eight of their starting XI.
- Only Arsenal have scored more goals (42) than United have scored (40) at home this season.
- Villa have the joint-worst defensive record in the league, conceding 35 along with Norwich and Newcastle.
- Christian Benteke needs one more goal to become the first Aston Villa player since Juan Pablo Angel in 2003-04 to score 20 goals in a season.
- Wayne Rooney has scored twice in each of Aston Villa's last two visits to Old Trafford.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa
- 24.05 %
Manchester United 2-0 Aston Villa
- 16.38 %
Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa
- 13.45 %
|Premier League (EPL)||15 Dec 2013||Aston Villa 0 - Manchester United 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Apr 2013||Manchester United 3 - Aston Villa 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||10 Nov 2012||Aston Villa 2 - Manchester United 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||15 Apr 2012||Manchester United 4 - Aston Villa 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||3 Dec 2011||Aston Villa 0 - Manchester United 1|
|8 Mar 2014||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Manchester United 3||EPL|
|25 Feb 2014||Olympiakos 2 - Manchester United 0||UCL|
|22 Feb 2014||Crystal Palace 0 - Manchester United 2||EPL|
|12 Feb 2014||Arsenal FC 0 - Manchester United 0||EPL|
|9 Feb 2014||Manchester United 2 - Fulham 2||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
Despite an impressive return of goals, Rooney's influence has diminished as the season has advanced but it would be just like him to make a big mark when the critics appear to be gathering voice.
The 22-year-old has been simply unplayable as he has dominated some of the Premier League's top centre-backs both in the air and on the floor. He is on course to becoming the first Villa play to hit 20 goals in a season since Juan Pablo Angel and would dearly love to showcase his talent for the world to see at Old Trafford.
The visitors do look capable of causing United problems in defence, particularly with the pace and power of Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Charles N'Zogbia. However, at the back they can still be rather naive and the extra nous and quality of Van Persie and Rooney will ensure the Red Devils will still come away with a comfortable victory.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed