Manchester United v Aston Villa - Match Preview, Stats & Team News

To be played on Saturday 29th March 2014 at 12:45. Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.

Odds: Manchester United 5/11, Draw 19/5, Aston Villa 15/2

Last season: 3-0

Preview & injury news

Last season's meeting between the two sides at Old Trafford saw United crowned Champions for the 20th time. There will be no such party this time around as David Moyes needs a win after hitting another low in the week when they were comprehensively outplayed in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night. The result has left United in seventh place on 51 points, five points clear of Newcastle United in eighth, but five points behind Tottenham who are in sixth. United will be desperately seeking a win ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich on Tuesday night in order to take some momentum into the game.

Aston Villa seem to be the Jekyll & Hyde side of the Premier League. They can be terrific one game and dreadful the next but they do have this habit of taking points off the big teams - including the sides that currently occupy the top four positions in the league table. They should be safe from the threat of relegation given that they are nine points above the drop zone, but you can never be too sure and Villa will be looking to pick up something just to make sure of their status next season. Their form is patchy having won two and drawn one of their last six games. 

On the injury front, Robin Van Persie is the most high profile absentee for Manchester United with a knee injury but it's in central defence where there is the biggest concern. Nemanja Vidic has a groin problem and there has been no word on his recovery yet whilst Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans still remain doubts with hamstring and calf injuries respectively.

For Villa, they have a few injury problems including Andreas Weimann who is struggling with a thigh problem whilst Karim El Ahmadi has a muscle injury. Libor Kozak continues his recovery from a broken leg, Jores Okore is close to a return from a long-term knee problem whilst Charles N'Zogbia is continuing his recovery from a long-term calf problem.

Key stats

Here are the top scorers from the two teams in the Premier League this season:

Wayne Rooney Man Utd FW 13 26 2,193
Robin van Persie Man Utd FW 11 18 1,466
Christian Benteke Aston Villa FW 10 25 2,038
Danny Welbeck Man Utd FW 9 21 1,271
Leandro Bacuna Aston Villa MF 5 28 2,157
Libor Kozák Aston Villa FW 4 14 781

Their average possession statistics:

NamePossession PercentagePlayed
Manchester United 54.84 31
Aston Villa 43.23 30

And the amount of clean sheets they have kept this season:

NameClean SheetPlayed
Manchester United 11 31
Aston Villa 8 30

5 players to watch

Juan Mata - Mata had a poor game for United against Manchester City in midweek as he looked careless in possession and didn't provide much of the craft an intelligent play that he has such a good reputation for. He should be taking up a more central role in the side once again behind Wayne Rooney and will be keen to put things right against Villa.

Christian Benteke - After a lean spell for large spell of this season, Benteke seems to be finding the net even when his side aren't playing so well. Against a United defence that isn't at full strength and quite low on confidence, the Belgian will be licking his lips at the prospect of this weekend's game.

Darren Fletcher - It was a bit of a surprise that Fletcher didn't feature in the Manchester derby in midweek after his good performance against West Ham but he may play this weekend in order to give the side some experience and control in the middle of the field - and it's a chance for him to prove to David Moyes that he should be playing in the bigger games.

Fabian Delph - Delph is one of the bright sparks in the Villa side and seems to have developed into an intelligent midfield player who is good on the ball and has an eye for goal. Against a vulnerable looking United midfield, Delph will be looking to exert some kind of authority for the visitors.

Wayne Rooney - Even when United are playing badly, no-one can fault the efforts of their top scorer this season. When the chips are down he puts in that extra bit of effort and gives everything to try and turn the team around. If United are victorious at the weekend, don't be surprised if Rooney is the catalyst.

Earlier on in the season

Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United, December 2013

It was one of United's stronger first half performances of the season as Danny Welbeck gave them the lead after a quarter of an hour by tapping home after Adnan Januzaj's header hit the post. Welbeck doubled his tally and the visitors' advantage moments later with a sliding finish from Antonio Valencia's cross. That was how it remained until the second half, where seven minutes after the interval Tom Cleverley finished well from a Wayne Rooney through ball to give United a comfortable victory. 

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