Match Previews

Match Preview: United vs Aston Villa

The Mirror

As the kids were taught a lesson in shock United defeats in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the senior players are back ready to face top-flight returnees Aston Villa this afternoon.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is as endeared at Old Trafford like Dean Smith is in the Midlands, but pressure will always be on the pair of them to please their supporters.

Before the first midweek matchday in the Premier League, this clash of two historic English clubs will close out of the weekend at the dawn of December.

Kick-off: 16:30 [BST]

Venue: Old Trafford

Referee: Craig Pawson

http://gty.im/1190033830

The Villains

Position: 16th

Recent form: WLLWW

Top goalscorer: Wesley [4]

Most assists: Jack Grealish [4]

Previous result: 2-0 Newcastle United (Hourihane, El-Ghazi)

Opposition lowdown

Promoted with late momentum through the play-offs last season, Villa have returned to where they feel they belong and are hoping to maintain their top-flight status before building themselves up to become a force to be reckoned with once again.

Having made 12 signings in the summer – two of those being made permanent following loan spells – it has already taken and still will take time for the squad to gel, but the signs are there for a successful stint back in the big time.

Local lad Jack Grealish captains the team, while former United goalkeeper Tom Heaton is between the posts.

West Bromwich-born boss Smith talked up the club in midweek, having signed a new contract through until the summer of 2023, saying: “I would love to be the one who takes this club back to the glory days of playing in Europe. 

“Under Martin O’Neill the club got regular top six finishes and that is where we feel we need to be again.”

Villa have not won at Old Trafford this decade, with Gabriel Agbonlahor’s header sealing a shock three points for O’Neill’s side.

Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)

  • Björn Engels – hip (a few days)
  • Keinan Davis – hamstring (two weeks)
  • Jota Peleteiro – hernia (back in training)
  • Jed Steer – calf (six weeks)

Expected lineup

(4-1-4-1) Heaton; Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba; El-Ghazi, McGinn, Jack Grealish; Wesley

One to watch – John McGinn

As most Fantasy Premier League players will know, McGinn is one of the most under-appreciated players in the division.

http://gty.im/1179309238

Three goals and two assists in the league are supplemented by seven goals since the start of the season for his national side, Scotland while his 17 key passes in the Premier League illustrate his influence on Villa.

Linked by with a £50m move to United in the summer, the former Hibernian man has now shown his ability at the highest level and will be a threat at Old Trafford if not dealt with, potentially by compatriot Scott McTominay.

Quote from the boss

“They’ve got some very good players coming through. I like the way Ole has gone about his business. He’s got a young squad he’s progressing for the future, a little bit what we’re doing here.” – Dean Smith

Next match: Chelsea [A] 4/12

http://gty.im/1152036910

THE RED DEVILS

No doubt a good experience for the youngsters who made the 6,000-mile round journey across Europe, it went down as yet another loss on the road for United this year.

Captain Jesse Lingard’s first goal since January got things off to a good start but Tahith Chong’s five-yard sitter and some suspect defending compounded for more misery as Astana recorded a historic result.

Solskjær praised the approach from the academy products and Dylan Levitt appears to have impressed the manager and has been included in the squad which stayed at The Lowry Hotel last night.

http://gty.im/1190655014

Team news

Wholesale changes from midweek are expected, although Lingard may retain his place in the number 10 role.

Axel Tuanzebe may drop to the bench, having featured heavily on loan in Villa’s promotion-winning campaign last season.

Luke Shaw returned to the squad in Astana but appears far from proper match sharpness so Brandon Williams is once again in line to start.

Scott McTominay is close to returning, while this encounter will come too soon for Paul Pogba to be involved.

Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)

  • Eric Bailly – knee ligaments (back in training)
  • Diogo Dalot – knock (back in training)
  • Timothy Fosu-Mensah – knee (back in training)
  • Nemanja Matić – knock (back in training
  • Scott McTominay – ankle (late assessment)
  • Paul Pogba – ankle (day to day)

Expected lineup

(4-2-3-1) De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Williams; Andreas, Fred; James, Lingard, Rashford; Martial

Quote from the boss

“I can’t wait to get out at Old Trafford again and the boys took a lot of heart from the Sheffield United comeback last weekend. After a bad start, the performance there was good and I’m looking forward to facing Villa.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær

Next match: Tottenham Hotspur [H] 4/12

http://gty.im/1190654866

POTENTIAL KEY BATTLES

– Anthony Martial vs Ezri Konsa

– Daniel James vs Matt Targett

– Harry Maguire vs Wesley

MATCH FACTS [FotMob]

  • United have lost just one of their 24 home Premier League games against Villa (0-1, December 2009), winning 12 of the last 13 and the last six in a row against them at Old Trafford
  • The Red Devils lost their last home league game against a promoted side, going down 0-2 against Cardiff on the final day of 2018-19; they have not lost consecutive such games at Old Trafford since a run of three in the 1986-87 season (vs Charlton, Norwich, and Wimbledon)
  • The Villains have lost 12 of their last 13 away Premier League games against the six ever-present sides, with a 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur in April 2015 being the only exception

Enjoy the match!

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