Manchester United travel to Villa Park this evening in search of the all important three points – a result we haven’t managed at the ground since 2007, which finished a 4 goal blitz as United strolled past a nine-man Villa. If my memory serves me correct, Wayne Rooney scored two while Rio Ferdiand and Ryan Giggs got one each.
Looking back at our previous games it’s not easy to be cheerful, especially with a number of decisions not going our way. However, performances have improved and we’ve seen glimpses of that attacking style of play we witnessed earlier this season. There is one slight concern though. And that’s taking our chances.
At Old Trafford last weekend United created twenty-eight chances against Newcastle and only managed to score one goal – Hernandez’ was ruled offside. Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper, had a Brad Fredel-like performance stopping almost everything United threw at him. On ‘The Raving Reds‘ podcast Tuesday night, I explained that this happens United every now and again. Days that whatever we create, it doesn’t work out. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen frequently and we tend can move on knowing we’re actually creating chances.
Aston Villa on the other hand haven’t had the best start to a season. The fans don’t have much faith in Alex McLeish due to his previous job at Birmingham City. You would think sitting 8th in the Premier League table, for a club like Villa, isn’t too bad. However, they have only managed to win 3 games out of 13. That is quite poor.
So what are they lacking this year? With the majority of their results being draws (7) it’s obvious that they are missing something. A player that can pop up and produce those important goals or even assists. Yes, this brings me on to Ashley Young, who will hopefully make his first appearance against his former club today. The winger was inconsistent throughout his time at Villa but he still provided the goods becoming a fans favourite. He will be hoping for a nice reception today.
A lot of changes from the midweek disappointment, against Crystal Palace, as you can see. A few fans are questioning the fact that we haven’t seen Anders Lindegaard in a month or so. And in all fairness, he hasn’t made many, if any, mistakes between the sticks. In fact, the Danish goalkeeper has managed to keep 4 clean sheets after 6 appearances. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got the nod, but I am going to play a safe one and call for David de Gea to start.
Rafael and Fabio both picked up injuries during the week, so they’re definitely not available. Patrice Evra doesn’t have much competition at left back, making my prediction a little easier. However, right back was one of the toughest calls with Chris Smalling back from injury. Although, I reckon Ferguson will take his chance to rest Rio Ferdinand moving Phil Jones into full back.
Michael Carrick has been very solid of late keeping it tidy at the back and making everybody else’s job easier. He remains a scapegoat among clueless supporters despite being the best midfielder in our current squad. Carrick is suspended for the game against Basel this coming Wednesday so that’s when he’ll get his chance to rest before a hectic run of games which usually comes around the same time as Christmas. Darren Fletcher on the other hand is slowly, but surely, getting there. He suffered an illness last season and hasn’t been the same since. Although, his contribution to midfield in the game against Newcastle was impressive so I hope he can keep it up.
In previous weeks, our wing play has been shockingly poor. And that’s a little worrying when we’re a club that depends on that particular position. Nani started the season well but has suffered from inconsistency yet again. Ashley Young only returned from an injury in the last few weeks but the impact he’s made is just incredible. I just hope his inconsistent past doesn’t creep in…
Up front I have Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez listed. It’s been a while since Rooney scored in the league, but I reckon he’ll end that drought today. Both strikers will need to be in top form because up against them will be Shay Given, who so far this season has been brilliant. This combination gives United power and speed. That should be enough to get past Villa’s defence.
Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United