Two out-of-form teams face-off at Villa Park on Sunday as Paul Lambert’s young Aston Villa side take on an out-of-sorts Manchester United.
Aston Villa have one win in four games, but that is still better than a beleaguered United side, who have none in the last four in the league, including losses in their last two games to Everton and Newcastle at Old Trafford of all places.
The Red Devils arrested the rot - results wise at least - at home by eking out a narrow 1-0 win against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday evening. However, United maintained athe status quo in terms of the listlessness of their performance.
David Moyes has a decent run of games coming up with clashes against Villa, Stoke City, West Ham and Hull City on the horizon. It is an opportunity to rack up some points, although the thigh injury ruling Robin van Persie out for a month certainly will not help.
United’s midfield has desperately missed the calming influence of Michael Carrick. He remains at least a couple of weeks away from a return. Injuries to Nemaja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling continued the theme of misery for United’s season with all of them potentially missing out at Villa Park.
United’s record at Villa Park is nothing short of splendid. They haven’t lost to Villa away since 1995. But, considering the rate at which the unfortunate Moyes is cracking so many unwanted records, one can't really back United with any confidence. Everton, Newcastle and West Brom have broken long-standing hoodoos against United. Aston Villa will be banking on doing something similar.
The trio of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke will likely be the front three for Villa. United’s injury problems in defence mean the trio may get some joy. Villa, though, will miss Fabian Delph. The midfielder is an integral part of Lambert’s setup.
Last season, this game was one of the nine comeback wins for Sir Alex Ferguson’s United. Javier Hernandez came on to claim a hat-trick (although one was later awarded as an own-goal), leading United to a 3-2 win after going behind 2-0.
The hope is that this season’s clash at Villa Park carries the same level of thrill. Although Moyes will want to avoid going two goals down as United have looked very un-united like after going behind this season.
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