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Aston Villa 0 v 3 Manchester United

1294 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Red Devil
In the first of three meetings in the next few weeks, United travel to Villa Park to face Martin O'Neill's charges.

Villa Park
Saturday, 23 December
Kick-off: 1500 GMT

Aston Villa's Gavin McCann will be given until the last minute to prove his recovery from a hamstring injury he picked up last weekend against Bolton.

Young midfielder Craig Gardner is standing by for his first start of the season in what is likely to be the only change to Martin O'Neill's side.

Premiership leaders Manchester United are set to name an unchanged team.

Defender Patrice Evra remains doubtful with a calf injury, while Alan Smith is still battling for full fitness.


Aston Villa (from): Kiraly, Olejnik, Mellberg, Hughes, Cahill, Ridgewell, Samuel, Bouma, Barry, Agbonlahor, Petrov, McCann, Gardner, Davis, Angel, Baros, Sutton, Agathe, Whittingham.

Manchester United (from): Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Neville, O'Shea, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Evra, Silvestre, Fletcher, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Richardson, Park, Rooney, Saha, Solskjaer.


Aston Villa defender Gareth Barry:
"It gives us the chance to give the fans the perfect Christmas present.
"West Ham showed last week that United are not unbeatable, we'll have to be at our best and hope for a bit of luck along the way.

"We know it's a tough game, and our record against United hasn't been that good in recent years."

Defeat at West Ham still rankles with Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
"We have to make sure we get back on track.
"This game is an obvious target but the most important thing is to win the league and we're capable of doing that.

"We're here for the long haul, and traditionally we always do better in the second half of the season."


ASTON VILLA and Manchester United meet at Villa Park in a dress rehearsal for next month's FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford. Villa are on the equal longest current winless run in the Premiership of six matches, as they prepare to face the League leaders in the pre-Christmas fixture. They will not want to hand too many presents to United, as defeat could see the Midlanders slipping out of the top half of the table, following an impressive opening to the campaign.

This is set to be a fascinating tactical duel between two of the most successful managers in British football, Martin O'Neill and Sir Alex Ferguson, and pits this season's Premiership specialists against the most prolific winners. Villa have lost only one more match than United, but are 19 points worse off.

Villa have failed to beat Manchester United in 16 League and Cup matches, since a 3-0 triumph in the third round of the Worthington League Cup on 13 October 1999. Their last home Premiership victory over the Red Devils came on 19 August 1995. Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and a Dwight Yorke penalty were the scorers in a 3-1 success.

MANCHESTER UNITED have the chance to re-establish a five point lead at the summit, before second placed Chelsea take on Wigan in the teatime kick off at the JJB. United lost away to West Ham last time out, while the champions won at Everton. The Red Devils will need at least a point from another game against a club who play in claret and blue, to ensure they spend Christmas Day at the top of the tree. This match completes the first half of the season, and a victory would give United 47 points. Every club that has stood on at least 47 points after 19 games has gone on to win the title in the history of English top flight football (calculating three points for a win).

The Old Trafford club have not lost successive Premiership matches in 61 games, since Norwich and Everton beat them on 9 and 20 April 2005 respectively, both away. Their holiday programme comprises of home games against Wigan on Boxing Day and Reading on the following Saturday, and a New Years Day trip to Newcastle.

United have 'doubled' Villa in each of the last three seasons, and are vying for an eighth successive Premiership victory over them. They've kept clean sheets in winning the last four League trips to Villa Park, and have not lost home or away to the Midlanders in a club record 21 meetings (15 wins, six draws). Their longest undefeated away streak against a single opponent is 11 matches (West Ham). That record was broken last Sunday. Should the table toppers avoid defeat against Villa, they would equal that record. Should they win, it would be United's eighth successive victory at the Villa Park ground (four Premiership trips, FA Cup third round ties in 2002 and 2004 and an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal in 2004).

Steve Bennett (Orpington, Kent)
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Very pleased with this result, its was a"banana skin" game but we came through it.
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