Aston Villa host Manchester United on Friday night.
Aston Villa face Manchester United in their opening home fixture of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, with a slight twist in that the encounter will take place on Friday night.
Tim Sherwood’s men head into the Villa Park clash coming off the back of their opening day 1-0 victory over Bournemouth, Rudy Gestede getting the only goal of the game.
The Villains on that occasion lined up in a 4-3-3 system with Jordan Ayew one of the three men upfront, yet against United the Ghana star should make way in order for Villa to be a little more compact.
Louis van Gaal’s men pose a number of attacking dangers, yet Villa’s back five stood firm last Saturday and there is little reason to change that for the visit of United.
Micah Richards’ will be tasked with getting close to Wayne Rooney, while both fullbacks will be expected to tuck in and track the runners of the likes of Juan Mata and Memphis Depay.
On Saturday, Villa opted for three in midfield with Scott Sinclair and Ayew often featuring as wide forwards, though against United playing the same way could leave them too open.
Ashley Westwood, Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gueye should retain their places, though tasked with playing narrower in order to compete in midfield and not find themselves outnumbered in the middle.
In order to combat their upcoming opponents' pace out wide – fullbacks Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw overlapping - Tim Sherwood ought to select pace himself in Scott Sinclair and Gabby Agbonlahor.
While the latter may prefer a more central striker role, on Friday he is the ideal candidate in Carles Gil’s absence to track the advancing Luke Shaw and counter with pace.
Rudy Gestede has to start for his aerial ability alone. In a game where possession may be in short supply for Villa, the former Blackburn man is an excellent target man and could bully United’s centre-backs.
With pace out wide, Sherwood should be telling his men to cross the ball as often as they can knowing they have arguably the most dangerous player in England looking to get on the end of them.
Moreover, set-pieces will be vital for the hosts and similarly to Saturday, Gestede will prove a massive threat if given the opportunity to really attack the ball.