Saturday’s Premier League action kicks off at Old Trafford as Manchester United take on Aston Villa in an exciting match-up.
The Red Devils suffered a disappointing Carabao Cup elimination at the hands of West Ham United on Wednesday, falling to a narrow 1-0 defeat on home soil.
However, it is worth mentioning that United lacked a host of significant first-team stars in that encounter.
Below, we preview both teams leading into this weekend’s bout, as well as view the predicted line-up for Premier League action.
With several United stars amongst the most valuable (and sought-after) fantasy football picks, there is bound to be a lot of attention going into this game outside of just United fans hoping for a title challenge.
Manchester United Preview
Despite their unpleasant Carabao Cup experience, the Red Devils are setting the pace in the Premier League early in the season, winning four of their opening five league matches (D1).
Since being held to a scoreless draw to local rivals Manchester City in December 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have found the net in their subsequent 15 top-flight outings at Old Trafford.
Relentless in front of goal, United netted an average of 2.93 goals per match during that 15-game sequence, though it’s worth noting that they failed to keep a clean sheet in the last seven in a row.
It’s been almost 39 years since United last endured a longer home Premier League run without a clean sheet, last conceding in eight consecutive league games here in February 1972.
Even if they equal that unwanted streak, the hosts can always rely on a free-scoring attack to mitigate the damage, with United’s tally of 13 league goals scored this season remaining the top-flight high.
Particularly dangerous after half-time, the Red Devils have registered a vast majority (77.78%) of their home Premier League goals scored this term at Old Trafford in the second half of play (7/9).
Aston Villa Preview
Villa put Everton to the sword at home last time out, pulling off a comprehensive 3-0 victory to snap a two-game winless Premier League streak (D1, L1).
Worryingly, Villa have lost both league matches away from home this season, conceding precisely three goals in each defeat while falling behind within 15 minutes of play on each occasion.
Dean Smith’s side have suffered five losses in their last eight Premier League fixtures on the road (W2, D1), as many reverses as they had in their previous 15 trips in the competition (W7, D4, L4).
Villa’s alarming away form is likely to continue here, as they’ve racked up just one win in their last 45 top-flight encounters against United (D11, L33).
What’s more, the visitors are winless in their last 17 Premier League meetings with United since claiming a narrow 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in December 2009.
You have to go back to Villa’s hard-earned 1-0 win at Leeds United in late February to find their last league clean sheet on the road. Smith’s men have conceded an average of 1.87 goals per Premier League trip since then.
Premier League Fantasy Picks
Despite being in the autumn of his footballing career, there is a good reason Cristiano Ronaldo is the most expensive Fantasy player.
Since sealing his blockbuster return to Old Trafford in the summer, the 36-year-old has registered four goals in five competitive appearances under Solskjaer.
Ronaldo is a scoring machine, and it is almost impossible to expect him not to find the net against a side that last kept a clean sheet on the road five months ago.
But his compatriot Bruno Fernandes could be equally dangerous here, considering he has scored in all three Premier League matches against Villa.
However, Bruno’s hopes of maintaining his scoring spree have dwindled on the back of Ronaldo’s return, as each of his three strikes against Villa arrived from the spot-kick.
Manchester United vs Aston Villa Predicted Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Fred, Scott McTominay; Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood; Cristiano Ronaldo.
Aston Villa (5-3-2): Emiliano Martinez; Ashley Young, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause, Matthew Cash; Douglas Luiz, Marvelous Nakamba, Jacob Ramsey; Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings.
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