Old Trafford, Manchester
4th April, 2015; 15:00 GMT
Manchester United host Aston Villa over the weekend knowing that victory will set them up quite nicely ahead of a double header with neighbours Manchester City & champions elect Chelsea.
The Red Devils are finally playing like a team & Louis van Gaal will be hoping that they can keep this up against an opponent whom they enjoy playing at Old Trafford. Van Gaala s men are also playing their most fluent football in recent memory and will be strong favourites heading into this match.
On the other hand, the Villans come to Old Trafford 3 points above the relegation zone but have enjoyed a mini resurgence under new manager Tim Sherwood. They had gone on a 3 match winning run prior to their defeat against Swansea. This run also included a quarter final win over West Bromwich Albion which ensured the Birmingham based outfit can have a day out at Wembley later this month.
Team News & Tactics
The most pressing concern ahead of this game for Louis van Gaal is how to rotate his star studded forward players and in the process retain the fluency of recent weeks. Cold & hard logic would suggest that Wayne Rooney be deployed as a front man with Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini & Juan Mata acting in support.
Angel Di Maria would find it really hard to displace either Young or Mata, both of whom have thrived in the absence of the Argentine. Uniteda s other struggling superstar Radamel Falcao enjoyed the break from club football to score 3 times for his country over the last week and it would be interesting to see whether van Gaal hands the Colombian a starting berth.
The defensive half for United is more or less decided with van Gaal settled on a back four instead of trying to play 3 in defence with wing backs. But once again the most important aspect of this team will be the double pivot partnership of Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera. And if the duo continue where they left off against Liverpool then three points will surely be in the bag.
Probable Starting Eleven (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Blind; Herrera, Carrick; Mata, Fellaini, Young; Rooney
If there is one team that has constantly had Aston Villaa s number in the Premier League era it has been Manchester United. The Villans though will know that the Manchester United that they face on Saturday is nowhere near the class of Sir Alex Fergusona s sides, at least not yet. They will know that if you get at this United side they can be put under pressure.
Sherwood though would need to find a balance between attack and defence and most importantly try to put 11 fit men on the field. Before the international break he hoped that his medical staff could do some magic and it remains to be seen whether Christian Benteke, who can certainly trouble Uniteda s backline, is fit to start.
Tom Cleverley, who is on loan from the Red Devils to Aston Villa, is not eligible to play against his parent club and in his absence it will be interesting to see whom Sherwood plays in the middle of the park along side Fabian Delph.
Probable Starting Eleven (4-4-2): Guzan; Bacuna, Okore, Clark, Hutton; Na Zogbia, Delph, Westwood, Sinclair; Benteke, Agbonlahor
Player to Watch Out For
The Spaniard has enjoyed a resurgence of late and his 2 goals against Liverpool in Uniteda s last outing capped off his best display in a red shirt. He will now look to carry that form into Uniteda s final 8 games.
Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa
The Red Devils should prove to be too strong for the Villans and it is hard to see past a comfortable home win.