Match Preview: Manchester United Vs Aston Villa
Villa are perhaps not the ideal visitors after a Champions League fixture. However, United utilised their squad players against Wolfsburg during the week and should not be affected by fatigue when Villa visit Old Trafford.
Before kicking off with this match preview it is probably a good time to praise United’s make-shift defence. Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher both did exceptionally well as stand in defenders managing to restrict Wolfsburg’s dangerous attack to just one goal. Michael Owen stepped up to the plate and bagged an impressive hat-trick, the goals may not have been the most spectacular you’ll ever see – but you just can’t complain when a man gets three!
Hopefully a couple of United’s crocked stars will be fit for Saturday. Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Edwin Van der Sar are all listed as ‘slight doubts’ but should pull through for the league fixture. Dimitar Berbatov is also struggling with a knee injury, while Nani has an ankle injury, and Owen may get to keep his place in the starting line-up after his mid-week heroics. Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Johnny Evans, Fabio, Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves are all ruled out.
Unlike United Villa have basically a fully fit squad. Craig Gardner and James Collins are listed as doubtful, while Curtis Davies and Wilfred Bouma have been ruled out. Aside from Collins, who was an ever present at centre-half, the rest of the injuries Villa have are all squad players on lengthy-absentees and Villa boss Martin O’Neill has the luxury of a relatively fully-fit squad to chose from.
O’Neill’s side play a counter attacking style of football and on their day they can be a danger for any team to face. They’ve already beaten Liverpool and Chelsea this season and are more than capable of getting a result at Old Trafford. Ashley Young is often singled out as the danger man but personally I see James Milner and John Carew as the players who are most likely to cause United problems. Milner is a tricky winger, comfortable on either flank, and although he doesn’t posses the pace of Young he has a great delivery and is a very intelligent footballer. Carew is a huge striker and can out-muscle even the most powerful of defenders, if Vidic is fit he will be the man charged with keeping Carew at bay but if Carrick has to operate as a stand-in centre-half it may prove difficult to keep Carew quiet.
Villa are probably one of the most difficult sides to face on home soil in the Premier League but the key is keeping their wide men under control, stopping the service to the main striker who will either be Emile Heskey or John Carew. I have every faith the United defence (even a make-shift one) will be able to do this but they are certainly a threatening team. After closing the gap on Chelsea last weekend the momentum is with United and they should get a result out of Villa. With Chelsea facing Everton earlier in the day the pressure will be on United should they get a result and sometimes this is exactly what the better players at Old Trafford thrive on.
Written by Gareth Freeman, a sports writer promoting Fairyhouse tips and horse racing Ireland.