Will United be heroes or Villans this weekend?


Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailLast season, fixtures against Aston Villa provided plenty of memorable moments for Manchester United. In November, trailing 2-0 at Villa Park after a dreadful first 50 minutes, United produced a typical Fergiesque comeback, with Javier Hernandez scoring two and forcing an own goal, as the Reds emerged with a 3-2 victory.

Five months later, on a balmy April night, United clinched their 20th title in spectacular fashion as they thrashed Paul Lambert’s men 3-0 at Old Trafford, courtesy of a Robin Van Persie’s hat-trick within 33 minutes.

Considering that, given the current circumstances, they won’t get to celebrate another night like last April for quite a while, United could do well to muster the same sort of spirited performance they delivered a little more than 12 months ago, or else they run the risk of falling even further behind on the table.

Those who ridiculed the 12-game unbeaten run as “something only small teams would cherish” must wish they had kept their mouths shut, for United haven’t won in the last four Premier League games, with consecutive defeats at home against Everton and Newcastle sounding like an ominous indication on the direction this season is heading to.

Tuesday’s win against Shakthar Donetsk was far from impressive – the first half was, in fact, probably the worst 45 minutes of the season – but did the job, which, like it or loathe it, is what United must focus on for the next couple of months, for while it’d be pleasant to see the Reds play swashbuckling football, the direness of results must be addressed first.

In theory at least, a trip to Villa Park is the perfect opportunity for United to regroup, for the Villans have failed to score in three of their last four league games on home turf and their talismanic striker Christian Benteke has not found the net in a Premier League game in over 10 hours and 40 minutes.

United’s record at Villa Park – the Reds haven’t lost their 17 league meetings away at Villa – would normally fill the Reds with confidence but, given this season’s trends, it merely looks like another long-standing record likely to come under threat, particularly if United produce a performance of the same sheer ineptitude that characterised their last two league encounters.

Yesterday United confirmed unwelcome news that Robin Van Persie will miss the entire festive period and beyond with a thigh injury likely to keep him sidelined for at least four weeks. Wayne Rooney is expected to start and, hopefully, extend his goalscoring record against the Villans who are Rooney’s joint-favourite target in the Premier League having netted 10 times against them.

Michael Carrick’s absence will continue to hamper the Reds’ midfield and it’ll be interesting to see whether David Moyes opts for Phil Jones or Marouane Fellaini alongside Tom Cleverley who’s expected to return to the starting XI given that Ryan Giggs played in Tuesday’s Champions League tie.

Ashley Young has almost no chance of featuring against his former club, given his appalling performance in the Champions League, while Antonio Valencia and one between Nani – who did very little to impress last week – and Adnan Januzaj should be deployed on the flanks, unless Moyes opt to play Shinji Kagawa wide on the left.

Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic could return to the side but remain doubtful while United will no doubt be wary of Christian Benteke who, despite his goal drought, remains more than capable of tormenting United’s inconsistent back four, while Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor can also cause trouble as United found out last year.

With Arsenal traveling to Manchester City and Liverpool facing Spurs away, there’s room for United to make up some ground on the table but possibly more importantly; steady the ship.




  1. Manchester City 4:1 Manchester United
    Manchester City 6:3 Arsenal.

    Difference between clubs willing to spend money to have better squad, football and results, and clubs willing to “spend” their squads, football and results to save money.

    Just remember: Fernandinho and Ozil could have been United players had the club been wiling to spend to get them. However, who needs them when we can have Ronaldo and Fabregas. Oh wait…

    • @Andrija Djuranovic: Yes indeed … but there again, our scouts also saw the huge potential in Young, Anderson, Nani, Hargreaves, Tosic, Valencia, Berbatov, Bebe, Buttner etc and in so doing waved goodbye to 120M+ 🙂

      • @ForeverRed: Yes, but still-Hargreaves won us the Champions League and Berbatov was the top scorer the season we won the title…Anyway, purchases such as Berbatov or RVP are exceptions, not rule. In every other big club (Real, Barcelona, Bayern, Chelsea, City,PSG) such purchases are the rule. That’s why we’re sitting pretty at 9th spot while Mourinho and Pelegrini are fighting for the title.

        • @Andrija Djuranovic: You and I are in agreement Andrija… my only point is that over the last few years we have had money, but in general not spent it as well as the as those clubs you mention. You haven’t seen much interest from Bayern or Real in Ashley Young, Bebe or Anderson, but we seemed to think they were good business at 50M.

  2. @Forever Red,

    Agree completely, but do not forget that we, unlike these clubs, also sold our star player-Ronaldo. Moreover, exactly because the club is still practicing austerity there is no money for top players, so we’re content with buying mediocrity for 13-17 million. All top players/talents we “tried” to buy: Sneijder, Lucas Moura, Hazard, James Rodriguez…they all went to other clubs, because we were not willing to fork out money for them.

    And another thing: if United is a top club (and it still is) and if United is one of the richest clubs with biggest revenues last and this year (the owners say it is), why is then United never up there in the mix for absolutely best players? Why didn’t we bid for Neymar, Goetze, Falcao,Ozil, Bale (for example)? As we know, Ozil was even offered to us but we declined, and, if there was two clubs trying to get him, he would surely have picked us over Arsenal before the season, and he would have come really handy now, especially with these injuries RVP is struggling with.

    And yet another thing: how come every other big club complete transfers in a week or so, while we always run into never-ending “problems” while negotiating to buy a player? How come we were sniffing around Alcantara for a month and failed, while Bayern did the job in mere 2 days? How come we almost messed up Fellaini job too, even it should have been open and shut case from the start, player with release clause and willing to come?

    The answer to all this question is very simple-our “unlimited” budget is actually limited to 20-40 million a year, and that’s why we’re never able to buy top players or even compete for them, and that’s why managers (Fergie and now Moyes) have to go for mediocre players when there are more holes in the team to fulfill. I am quite sure we wouldn’t have even bought Fellaini if we hadn’t lost the Liverpool game. Now there is this story about us having 80-90 million in the account to spend-of course, we maybe have that money there, but it’s simply not going to be spent the way we hope it would be. If Moyes gets 1/5 of that money to spend on players, he should consider himself happy, and he knows it.

  3. Really pleased to see the return of Darren Fletcher to the bench today.What sort of condition he’ll be in is anyone’s guess, just think its more of a psychological boost more than anything. A fully fit Fletcher would of been a major asset to this team, been missed big time. Just hope moyes doesn’t start wheeling out the tired old clishay “like having a new signing” bullshit.just hope we don’t rush him back into the team because of our dire situation, mind you, nothing suprises me nowadays. Villas poor home form should give us a chance for 3points today, but on our current form wouldn’t bank on anything. Just can’t experience another defeat. If that happens, you can say we’ve well and truly hit rock bottom. Anyway, just hope for a good performance and a win and I’ll be happy (is that wishful thinking? )

  4. seriously this is all the chatter after a 3-0 win today???

    good on welly and clevs for taking their chances. I still have hope for those two unlike a few on the team that i hope are replaced in jan.

    7 points from city now and i think they are the real title favorites for me anyway with what is it 29 goal diff?

    heard the fans chanted “were staying up” haha bet it was a fun one to be in the away section… and theres only one darren fletcher!!! way to go fletch hope you can get some more matches

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