Aston Villa's fight for survival continues on Saturday when they face the daunting task of going to Old Trafford to take on an in-form Manchester United side. Tim Sherwood’s team currently sits 16th in the Premier League hovering just three points above the relegation zone.
Two vital wins against West Brom and Sunderland lifted Villa out of the bottom three but then a defeat at home against Swansea in their last game kept the pressure on. Luckily for them the teams below them also have tough games this weekend.
United, on the other hand, are breathing down the necks of Arsenal and Manchester City and could end the day in second place if other results go their way. They are coming off the back of four straight wins with two impressive victories over Liverpool and Tottenham coming in their last two games.
Manchester United's best XI of the season so far
Manchester United's best XI of the season so far
1/11 David De Gea - 6.77
Never any doubt that the Spanish stopper would be in goal. Been brilliant this season.
2/11 Antonio Valencia - 7.24
Injuries have seen the former Wigan player deployed at right-back for much of the season and he comes out on top among the possible options.
3/11 Phil Jones - 7.46
Manchester United's defence was much derided at the start of the campaign but Jones has played a major role in silencing the critics and actually scores the highest of all Manchester United's players.
4/11 Chris Smalling - 7.34
Alongside Jones is Smalling - another who's appeared more assured as the campaign has progressed. That centre-back pairing sees Jonny Evans and Paddy McNair miss out.
5/11 Marcos Rojo - 7.30
The Argentina international has begun to show why the club forked out £16m and allowed Nani to go to Sporting Lisbon to bring him to Old Trafford. Rojo scores much higher than his most direct competitor for the left-back berth, £27m signing Luke Shaw (6.80).
6/11 Ander Herrera - 7.24
The summer signing from Athletic Bilbao has shown an eye for goal as well as a pass this season, which is why despite playing less than Juan Mata (6.86), he snatches the right-sided midfielder position.
7/11 Marouane Fellaini - 7.34
Despite being mocked in some circles for his rough and ready style following his move from Everton, under Louis van Gaal, Fellaini has shown just how effective he can be which is why he claims a central midfield berth.
8/11 Daley Blind - 7.30
Alongside Fellaini is Netherlands international Blind, who scores higher than the alternative central midfielder, Michael Carrick (7.05).
9/11 Ashley Young - 7.22
Despite an outlay of £59.7m on Angel Di Maria, it is former Watford and Aston Villa player Ashley Young who has done more to justify a place on the left side of midfield so far this season. After a lively start, Di Maria's performances have dipped alarmingly, leaving him with a score of 7.18.
10/11 Wayne Rooney - 7.36
The captain has been consistent throughout the season, despite being shifted from one position to another by an indecisive Van Gaal. Rates as Manchester United's second best player this season after Jones.
11/11 Robin van Persie - 7.21
Despite a stop-start season hit by injuries and exclusion from the team, Van Persie still scores much higher than on-loan Colombian Radamel Falcao (6.78), meaning the Dutchman claims the second striker position and completes the best XI of the season so far.
Radamel Falcao will be in contention as he scored three goals while on international duty. Aston Villa are also hoping to welcome Ron Vlaar back into their squad for the game after being out since February.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Aston Villa 1 (Benteke) Manchester United 1 (Falcao), Premier League, December 2014
Manchester United 4 (Rooney 2, Mata, Hernandez) Aston Villa 1 (Westwood), Premier League, March 2014
Aston Villa 0 Manchester United 3 (Welbeck 2, Cleverley), Premier League, December 2013
Aston Villa haven’t beaten Manchester United in the Premier League in their last nine attempts.
Aston Villa have only scored eight goals on their travels this season while Manchester United have scored 33 times at home.
Manchester United have scored 11 goals in the last three games between these two sides while Villa have only managed to score one.
Wayne Rooney has scored 14 goals against Aston Villa, the same as his total against Arsenal, which is more than any other team in the League.
Manchester United to win: 1.3
Aston Villa to win: 10
Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa - 2013
When Manchester United hosted Aston Villa on April 22, 2013, they had the chance to secure their 20th Premier League title, and thanks to the brilliance of Robin van Persie, they did just that.
Van Persie scored a first-half hat-trick against Villa with his second goal worthy of winning any title and was a fitting send-off for Sir Alex Ferguson. The goal, which came in the 13th minute, was created out a long, searching ball played forward by Wayne Rooney, which Van Persie ran onto and met with a stunning left-footed volley from the edge of the area.
Villa couldn’t cope with Van Persie and United on that day and just couldn’t wait for the hammering to be over.
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