The Dutchman has been in solid form this season, scoring 7 and assisting 2 of Manchester United’s 22 Premier League goals this season. In fact, in statistical terms, United’s number 20 has participated in over 40% of the team’s goal tally this term.
Over the past few games, especially against Newcastle in the absence of Wayne Rooney, the over-reliance on van Persie has had a detrimental effect on Manchester United's other attacking options, and RVP found himself dropping deeper and deeper. However, with his expected monthly layoff, Villa Park couldn’t be a better place for his fellow attackers to grab the initiative and kick start their own seasons.
Villa Park has been a home-away-from-home for Manchester United in recent seasons, with the Old Trafford outfit avoiding defeat on their last 18 visits - Manchester United's last defeat coming in 1995. And to add insult to injury, Rooney’s return won’t be a welcome sign for the hosts, as he has scored 8 times in the last 10 meetings between the sides.
With Van Persie out, an expected change in formation could finally see Moyes break his conservative shackles and select a more flowing front line, instead of the rigid formations of recent weeks.
The Scot is likely to name the unchanged back four that kept a clean sheet in midweek, with the possibility of Evra replacing Buttner, two holding midfielders in Jones and Cleverly with the attacking trio of Nani, the ever-creative Kagawa and the impressive Januzaj supporting Rooney up front.
Should Moyes be brave enough to select this inter-changing front four, then I can’t look beyond Manchester United extending their incredible Villa Park run.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Man Utd
Will Manchester United claim a much needed 3 points in the absence of RVP ?
image: © Doha Stadium Plus