Villa head to Old Trafford in good spirits, having easily defeated a woeful Newcastle Utd (2-0) at Villa Park.
This was a deceptively important win, that despite some competitive performances prior to the international break, ultimately saw us on a 3 game losing run and in 17th position.
The win over Newcastle lifted Villa to 15th (14 points) and the prospect of a tasty head-to-head against Manchester United.
United remain an unpredictable side, and whilst little can be read into their youngest fielded side ever losing in Astana midweek, their league form remains underwhelming. Wins over Brighton and Norwich were sandwiched between a defeat and a draw to Bournemouth and Sheffield United respectively.
Solskjær remains a confusing choice for the outside observer, undoubtedly a fine player but huge questions must remain as to whether he has the pedigree to put United back amongst the domestic and European elite. The Norwegian is treading carefully, with the swift departures of Mauricio Pochettino and Unai Emery enough to ruin ones sleep at night.
Old Trafford is a reminder of how far we’ve come in a short period of time.
Until Smith took over in October 2018 Villa could barely string a pass together and were facing the genuine prospect of our third season in the Championship wasting away. The fact that Smith engineered a promotion and with it the return to a more respectable fixture list cannot be understated.
We head to face United in good shape.
With Jack Grealish fit again, it feels like we have a genuine opportunity to cause an upset. Our marquee man was in threatening form in our home victory and Old Trafford presents him with the platform to demonstrate England aspirations on a global stage.
There is a big decision to made in terms of our midfield set-up. Do we opt for the disruptor Marvellous Nakamba or classy, but casual, Douglas Luiz? John McGinn picks himself. Do we need to box-clever with Irish international Conor Hourihane?
There’s also the issue of our inconsistency out wide and the erractic cover it provides our flanks. El Ghazi, who was slick and scored the second goal on Monday night, can be frustratingly inconsistent. Mahmoud Trezeguet has seen an upturn in form of late. However, we have come un-done repeatedly due to poor tracking back and cover for Guilbert and Targett.
The defence too poses a selection dilemma. Does Smith risk retaining the eye catching Esri Konsa, or bring Bjorn Engels back into the side to partner Mings? The 25 year old Belgian, excellent since joining from Reims in the summer, is fit again after a hip complaint. Caution would suggest that Smith will opt for a Mings/Engels partnership. Tom Heaton will remain the steady and assured fixture betweent the sticks.
Perhaps this is the type of fixture that could suit Wesley. The Brazilian was more involved last time out, but was guilty of missing a fine opportuntity from 6 yards when well placed to score. With that said, if he can apply his physicality and be alert in a game of likely limited opportunity, he might yet surprise a few people.
Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa
“If Villa can keep tight and play with the competitiveness shown against Manchester City and Liverpool, there is the real possibility of a smash and grab. Unlike the Liverpool game, if we can navigate the bulk of the game unscathed and score deeper into the second half, I think there could be an upset. However, play with low-intensity, as we did in the loss at Wolves or fail to shut out the game, as against Liverpool, we will get punished.”
- A win could lift Villa as high as 9th.
- Villa have beaten United just once in 24 games at Old Trafford.
- This was courtesy of an Agbonlahor winner in 2009.
- Concerningly, this is our only win against United in 41 attempts.
- Our hosts have kept only 1 clean sheet in 12 league games, however.
- United also have their lowest points total since the 1988/89 season.
- Villa’s last 4 goals have come from set-pieces.
- We are also guilty of conceding the most from set-plays (9).
- Hourihane is the assist merchant: with 13 assists.
- Villa’s leading scorer is Wesley with 4.
- United’s leading goalscorer is Marcus Rashford with 7.
- Utd injuries: Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Dalot, Rojo, & Pogba.
- Villa injuries: Jota, Davies & Steer.
- United rested their entire first team for the midweek defeat to Astana.
- There have been 2.5+ goals in Villa’s last 4 games.
- Villa have lost 5 of 6 away games this term.
- Betting outlook with freebetshub.com | Man Utd 1/2 | Draw 7/2 | Villa 6/1 |
- Predicted Teams:
- AVFC XI: Heaton; Guilbert, Mings, Konsa, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane; El-Ghazi, Wesley, Grealish.
- Man Utd XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Tuanzebe, Williams; Fred, Pereira; James, Martial, Rashford
- Referee: Lee Pawson
- Kick Off: 16:30pm (GMT) – Sunday 1st December 2019.
- Streaming / TV: The game is not being televised in the UK.
- Sources: BBC – Guardian – WhoScored – Standard – 90Min | Oddschecker