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

To be played on Sunday 15th December 2013 at 13:30. Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham.

Odds: Aston Villa 17/4, Draw 14/5, Manchester United 3/4

Last season: 2-3

Preview & injury news

Hands up all those who would have thought that Aston Villa could have an opportunity to go level on points with Manchester United in this fixture at the start of the season? It is a bit of a surprise to see the Champions 13 points off the league leaders and languishing in ninth position in the table, new manager or not. United have also only taken two points out of their last four games, failed to score in each of their last two matches - both of them 1-0 defeats at Old Trafford, though there will have been some relief in the 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League that ensured top spot in their group.

Aston Villa's form has been a bit of a mixed bag. Despite their loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage, they did pull off a remarkable victory at Southampton with only 23% possession, which is their only win in their last six games, but they have only lost the once in that period of time as well.

On the injury front, Villa are still without their captain Ron Vlaar who has a calf injury, whilst forward Libor Kozak is set to miss out with an ankle injury. Joe Bennett still has a back injury, there's still no word on when Charles N'Zogbia might be able to return to the first team as he has a calf problem but Antonio Luna could return from a groin problem.

Fabian Delph is suspended for the home side as Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney returns from a one match ban after picking up five yellow cards. Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic are both struggling with knocks for United whilst Chris Smalling has a hamstring problem and Marouanne Fellaini has a back injury. Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher are still sidelined.

Key stats

Christian Benteke is Aston Villa's top scorer in the league this season with four goals.

Wayne Rooney is Manchester United's top scorer in the league this season with eight goals.

Aston Villa had 47% possession in their last league match, a 2-0 defeat away to Fulham

Manchester United had 47% possession in their last league match, a 1-0 defeat at home to Newcastle United.

5 players to watch

Christian Benteke - He is going through a bit of a dry spell in terms of goals at the moment, so Benteke will be eager to put that right this weekend, and he may well have a good opportunity this weekend against a Manchester United side that is rarely at that stage where they're not high on confidence.

Wayne Rooney - He makes his return from suspension and David Moyes will hope that he brings that touch of class back with him, and can help United return to winning ways in the league.

Leandro Bacuna - People will have seen Bacuna stand over free-kicks a lot this season, as well as that threat he is a good crosser of the ball and can be tricky for the defence to deal with. It wouldn't be a surprise if his performance was a major factor on Sunday.

Phil Jones - When Jones has played in the middle of the park, he has provided United with a great deal of energy and bite, and his goal in midweek against Shakhtar proves that he does possess and attacking threat as well.

Andreas Weimann - Weimann got two goals in this fixture between the two sides last season as Villa raced into a 2-0 lead. Can he come up with a similar performance this season.

Last time they met

Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa, April 2013 Premier League

United went into this game knowing that a win would give them a 20th top flight league title and they wasted no time in going about their business when Robin Van Persie poked home Antonio Valencia’s cross from two yards 83 seconds into the contest. Van Persie doubled United’s lead with a Wayne Rooney ball over the top, came over the Dutchman’s shoulder for him to hit first time on the volley to score a wonderful goal. He got his hat-trick before the break after Ryan Giggs had run onto Shinji Kagawa’s ball who played it to Van Persie to finish it off. There were no more goals as United celebrated their 13th title under Sir Alex Ferguson whilst Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa were still looking over their shoulder towards the relegation trap door.

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