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Struggling Villa welcome vibrant United

Villa Park has been a favoured stomping ground for Manchester United over the years. Of the last 33 league encounters, Villa have only won one, and that away from home. After seeing his team score at least 2 goals in the last 9 games, Sir Alex will be looking to continue his Manager of the Month performances into November and will hope that Saturday’s evening match up follows the form-book.


Aston Villa are very much in a transition stage of their development as a football club. They approached the 2010/11 season with such optimism; they had just finished 6th in the league the year before and were competing in the Europa League after a narrow defeat to Manchester United in the League Cup Final. But, days before the start of the season, their mastermind Martin O’Neil quit and they were dumped out in the Europa League’s playoffs by Rapid Vienna. Since then it has all been downhill. Finishing a respectable 9th in their first O’Neill-less season under Gérard Houllier, and then Gary McAllister after Houllier’s heart problems, Villa looked like they would recover well. However, the year after, Alex McLeish and lost both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, dealing the Villains a blow they have yet to recover from. After a 16th place finish last season, they now find themselves teetering on the relegation precipice in 17th position.

If form continues for Villa, they will not be escaping the relegation mire anytime soon. They have won twice in ten games this season, and before last weekend’s victory away at hapless Sunderland (ironically managed by Martin O’Neill), had lost 3 out of 5. Their lengthy injury list is adding to a mounting list of problems for the midlands club. Joe Bennett is doubtful, leaving only one recognised available left back in the club in Enda Stevens, after Eric Lichaj picked up his 5th yellow card of the season in his last outing. Stevens, 22, is an Irish u21 international, and joined from Shamrock Rovers in January, and will be looking to make only his second league appearance for Villa. Miss-firing £24million striker, Darren Bent, is still injured, meaning Christian Benteke is likely to start.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United on the other hand look as spritely as ever, as they go in search of a lucky 13th Premier League title, powered by their frighteningly explosive attacking force. With Chris Herd and Richard Dunne also out for Villa, it could be a long evening for the home side. Sir Alex’s hand has been forced slightly with regards to starting XI, with Nani joining Kagawa, Jones and Vidic on the sidelines. Evans, having received a knock midweek, should start, meaning the United XI could look similar, if not the same, as last weekend’s crushing of ‘the’ Arsenal. Indeed, the Red Devil’s are on a roll at the moment, after dispatching Chelsea and the Gunners in successive weekends before Robin van Persie and Rooney secured United’s 7th come from behind win of the season against Braga. The strikers in particular will be looking forward to the Villa Park encounter, scoring a league high of 26 goals so far this season, in comparison to Villa’s meagre offering of 8. Yet, as any footballer will know, they shouldn’t count their chickens yet with Villa sure to be pumped up, especially after a much needed victory over Sunderland last weekend

Match Up

The greatest issue for Aston Villa is certain to be at left back. Although Enda Stevens played 15 times in the Europa League for Shamrock Rovers and won the PFAI Young Player of the year last year, he has made only a single substitute appearance in the League for Villa. Whilst Valencia was poor last weekend against Arsenal, he will be relishing a match up against the 22 year old Irishman. Lambert will have to account for his lack of strength in the left of his defence and so compromises will have to be made, meaning spaces could open up in other parts of the pitch.

Unsurprisingly, Villa will play in a combative manner, and against Sunderland last week they recorded 20 tackles and 17 fouls. Whilst trying to remain firm at one end, they will look to spring on the break, utilising the pace of Agbonlahor and the power of Benteke. Although the two have yet to gel as a pairing, Villa will be relying on the strikers to feed on limited scraps as United will undoubtedly dominate possession, as Villa have only come out with over 50% in two games so far this season.

For Manchester United, the game plan is simple. Expect wide, expansive football, with Robin van Persie’s movement and touch creating opportunities for himself and others.


United’s firepower will east them past a struggling Villa side, who have scored the least goals but for Sunderland and QPR in the Premier League so far this season. I predict a comfortable 3-0 win, with David de Gea merely a passive bystander.

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  1. Redrich

    November 10, 2012 at 4:46 am

    When the dog-and-pony-show shows at Villa Park, I’m wondering which dogs will play MF and which pony’s will play defense.
    It’s almost impossible to predict SAF’s team selection now. His circus act of trying to keep all his squad involved is becoming a juggling act that has too many balls in the air. You can almost hear him think, “I need to win, but I need to develop these young players”. He has a dilemma, as do most managers, but his is complicated by the fact that he just can’t or won’t make up his mind about the players that lie in the nether regions of football’s hierarchy, and that reside in his chosen squad.
    And the key here is that it’s “HIS SQUAD”.

    There has to be a time when choices will be made, I just think that he doesn’t want it to be his!
    “I have all these talented players and I just don’t understand why they don’t play well together. So I’ll juggle the balls until they do.”

    Well, how about the idea that you don’t have a lot of talented players, and that you could put Messi and Ronaldo in this team and Nani and Anderson, and Evans and Evra could still fuck it up. The time has come to cut the dead wood from this tree. It make the tree seem bare, but it allows the light to shine on the healthy branches.
    We all know the good from the bad, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the the woods because of the trees – it’s becoming hard to believe that this pretense about the quality of this team, is anything other than a mistake being covered up.

    • thatboywazza

      November 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

      @Redrich: That was a bit Deep!

    • Racs

      November 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm


      We can’t even predict what formation he is gonna use either!!!! The frustration I feel nowadays when it comes to watching united is at times just unbearable, we are so hit and miss at the moment its unbelievable!! I do agree with the comments you have made above and also with JayWire’s view where he comes up with the discussion about the inability of our coaching staff because to an extent I think they are just as much to blame. Again and again I insist that our tactical know how and technical quality has declined severely since the days when Carlos Queiroz was at the club and this shows in our play.

      We can’t take away the fact however that we are team who likes to do things the hard way, the ugly way if you like and to be honest with you, for me personally, thats not good enough. We should be dominating games and asserting our authority like we used to by using our top players and our most consistent performers on a regular basis but if SAF is always rotating the team to keep the squad happy and all players involved then how do we achieve this? No wonder we have become so hit and miss. We are struggling against mid table teams from not only the premier league but in europe! IMO We have been very lucky this season in the Champions League against mediocre sides like Braga and Galatasaray, heck even Cluj were a tough little cookie to break down at times even though we dominated the game! Just imagine if we had been drawn in Shitty’s group, with Real, Dortmund and Ajax….do you think we would have qualified?

      I am really looking forward to watching us today to see what’s in store but then again is it worth having another anti-climax??

      I know its difficult to take in and the points you have raised in your post above are all valid. I have only been a contributor of this blog for a couple of months now and I have noticed a lot of delusional fans on here who seem happy by the way we are going and what we are doing……Okay its always a great feeling to win and at the end of the day that is the aim of the game however I feel there is more to that and although we shouldn’t really give a toss about that as long as we win, as fans, we need to voice our concerns when something is not right.

      Regardless of what happens, I will always be there for the team and will be supporting them through thick and thin and no matter what but there is no doubt that there are issues which need to be addressed sooner rather than later.


  2. Moscow

    November 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Why is Scholes still starting games? We have the better players and yet we are outwitted once AGAIN.

    • Racs

      November 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm


      Its total BS mate. We have no idea whatsoever! Our midfield is getting overrun, YET AGAIN! I am lost for words…

    • RMJ

      November 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      @Moscow: scholes and giggs are well past it such that a lot of other players are carrying them this season. BUt yet fergie tells us they have what it takes to play one more…. ridiculous. Are we seeingg the same game fergie?

  3. Moscow

    November 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    This reminds me of our first half against City at Old Trafford last season. They’ve doubled up on our flanks and we have no answer. How is the constant crossing tactic working out Fergie? BUY A FREAKING MIDFIELDER/

    • Racs

      November 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm


      Totally agree, how does Fergie and the coaching staff not see this? Its staring them right in the face!

      • Moscow

        November 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

        @Racs: Don’t be surprised if Giggs and Scholes both start at the Etihad in December. It’s not like he hasn’t done it before (in 2012).

        • Racs

          November 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm


          Lets see what the 2nd half has in store for us, i really hope we get our act together because if we don’t, I can see us quite easily losing this game!

          Positive move by SAF bringing on Chicha!

          Come on UNITEDDD!!!

    • Craig Mc

      November 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      @Moscow: SUCKER punch goal against us again. 75% possession and suffering from our usual ineptitude to CREATE anything worthwhile in their penalty area. No chicharito, not much chance of goals when we play against these packed defences. You all still think Valencia and Young are such great players – yeah course you s do! Scholesy getting no room, and making some dodgy decisions as a result!

  4. Moscow

    November 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    This shit gets better and better. WTF is going on?

    • Racs

      November 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm


      Hernandezzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank f*ck for Chicha lads!

      • Craig Mc

        November 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm

        WTF did I tell you eh? CHICHARITO 3 – Aston Villa 0. Leave little pea out at your own peril Fergie, he goes where no other man dares, right in there where it hurts – UNSTOPPABLE, and on a total roll in this form! He is a freakin ghost, they can’t see him in the box until it is too late. Unlucky RVP hit the bar twice.

        • Craig Mc

          November 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm

          @Craig Mc: Stand up for the little pea, stand up for the little pea, stand up for the little pea, stand up for the little pea 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

        • Moscow

          November 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm

          @Craig Mc: Fantastic performance, clinical finishing.

  5. gator

    November 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    villa getting alot of phantom free kicks now that its 2-2 🙄

  6. Owen

    November 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Paul Scholes – Still the best player at Club.

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