Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways when they host Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Manchester United have had a tumultuous time in recent weeks, owing mostly to injuries and a lack of cutting edge upfront. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to field a young lineup against Astana in the UEFA Europa League, the midweek fixture also saw United unable to hold on to their lead as well as lack the ability to convert clear chances.
Manchester United have a chance to jump up to 5th on the Premier League table if they notch up a win against Aston Villa, who themselves have found it difficult to pick up positive results. One of the three promoted teams this season, Villa have performed well, but again have somehow not been able to gather points, languishing at 16th on the table, just 2 points above the relegation zone.
One positive for Villa is their recent form, with three wins in their last six games, meaning 9 of their 14 points this season have come in this run alone. Their away form, though, is the worst in the league, with just 3 points in 6 games so far.
Ahead of the encounter at Old Trafford, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
First-team stars would have enjoyed the rest afforded during the midweek by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, albeit for the result in Kazakhstan. But, the rest should revitalise the first-team squad ahead of a crucial run of matches that could see Manchester United improve on their points tally as well as league position.
United are jarred on the injury front, with as many as seven first-team stars either out or doubtful for the home fixture against Aston Villa. Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot aren’t exactly first-choice in their respective positions, but their unavailability means the back four is locked nonetheless.
Brandon Williams has made the left-back slot his own and should start on the left, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right and the pairing of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire in central defence.
In midfield, Paul Pogba is still recovering from his injury layoff while Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic are doubtful. Solskjaer is hopeful of McTominay being able to make the match on Sunday. In case he does, we should see the Scot partner with Fred in central midfield.
The attacking quartet already has three fixed names – Daniel James, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. The fourth spot should be a toss-up between Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira, a battle the latter is likely to prevail in. Dylan Levitt is part of the matchday squad according to reports and could be on the bench against Aston Villa.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Williams; McTominay, Fred; James, Pereira, Rashford; Martial
Dean Smith is unlikely to make changes, if at all, from the team that won 2-0 over Newcastle United. Keinan Davis and Jed Steer remain sidelined. But, the big news is the unavailability of Jota and Bjorn Engels, both of whom are struggling to be fit in time to face Manchester United on Sunday.
We should Ezri Konsa start in central defence, partnering Tyrone Mings. Matt Target and Frederic Guilbert should complete the back four, with former Manchester United star Tom Heaton in goal for Aston Villa. Douglas Luiz and Conor Hourihane should partner the in-form and much talked about John McGinn in midfield.
Anwar El Ghazi and Jack Grealish should support Wesley in attack, with the Brazilian tasked with the responsibility of troubling the United defenders on Sunday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Heaton; Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Douglas, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Grealish; Wesley
1. Aston Villa have the worst away record in the 2019-20 Premier League.
2. Manchester United have scored more than one goal in only one of their last five Premier League home games.
3. Aston Villa have scored 8 goals in their last five Premier League away games. But, 5 of them came in a single match in their only away win this season, a 5-1 result at Norwich.
4. Manchester United have dropped 10 points from winning positions this season so far, one less than they did in the entire 2018-19 season.
5. Manchester United have never lost consecutive home games against promoted sides in the Premier League era.
Player to Watch
The Brazilian has done no favours to his decreasing stock among the Manchester United fans with his recent performances in a United shirt. Despite being played as a starter this season so far, Pereira’s inability to hold on to the ball along with his uncanny nature to shoot when there is a pass available has frustrated the fans.
The academy star has to prove himself within December if he is worthy of a place in the starting eleven or a regular basis or a January reinforcement is necessary in his position. Crunch time for Pereira.
Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in need of a win after seeing his counterparts at Arsenal and Tottenham being given marching orders. Manchester United are in a worse position than both currently, but have a run of fixtures that could see Solskjaer prove his worth once again.
We expect United to come out dominating the match and open the scoring. Villa should get one back but United should be good for the win at Old Trafford. We are going with a comfortable win for the home side.