Confirmed Aston Villa side to face Manchester United at Villa Park:
On the bench for Villa:
Nyland, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Nakamba, Hourihane, Lansbury, Jota, Vassilev, Davis.
Villa’s season has now reached the point of needing to find a win against all odds.
With Watford securing victory over Norwich, and with West Ham also pulling away to 31 points, our nearest relegation rivals have taken the initiative.
The fat lady isn’t quite singing, but she’s now warming up in the wings of The Holte End.
Manchester United, despite early season struggles, arrive to face us in fine form. A 16 game unbeaten run has put them firmly in the battle for the Champions League places. This is no dead rubber for them, they need to win if they are to keep pace with Chelsea (3rd) and Leicester (4th).
We have compiled an in-depth fact and stat pack for Villa vs Man Utd – click here for more.
For Villa, the objective is obvious. We simply have to fashion a victory against one of the in-form and top sides in the division. We will not draw or lose our way out of the relegation zone.
Key to this will be keeping United out. We have statistically the worst defence in the division, but it has improved since lockdown. Smith has big decisions to make in respect of whether to bring back Frederic Guilbert and who from either Hause or Konsa should partner Mings.
Mings, whilst performing to the heights that earned him an England call-up, has been suddenly linked with a switch to Old Trafford in recent days.
Important too is what Smith opts to do in midfield. Trezeguet simply hasn’t cut it. El Ghazi remains woefully inconsistent. McGinn was much improved against Liverpool (2-0) and Luiz continues to show his best form in a Villa shirt.
What part to play, if any, do Hourihane, Lansbury and Drinkwater?
Grealish, who isn’t in electric form, will need to muster something special. He’ll inevitably have to carry others around him in doing so, but then, what’s new? The midfielder also finds himself the focus of transfer rumours to join Solskjaer at United.
Up front is perhaps of most pressing concern due to lack of goals. Davis’ work-rate is impressive, but without end product. Samatta has shown little threat since the restart. Neither have thrived when picked as a lone striker, but little has come of them when playing alongside one another either.
We must remain optimistic, recognise the risk that United pose to us, but awaken to the fact that reality threatens Villa with far worse.
Nothing but a win will do.
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