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Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, James, Mata, and Rashford lead the line against Villa; Williams keeps his place, Tuanzebe and Garner on the bench

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Manchester United will return to Premier League action this afternoon where they will welcome Aston Villa back to Old Trafford just over three years since they last appeared at the Theatre of Dreams. United seemed to be inspired in their comeback against Sheffield United last weekend, scoring three goals in seven minutes after being 2-0 down in the opening 70 minutes of the match, a late equaliser meant they dropped points.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a young squad to Kazakhstan for their penultimate UEFA Europa League group stage match which saw six academy graduates make their full debuts for the club. The likes of Ethan Laird, James Garner and Dylan Levitt all looked good and will have earned praise and maybe more appearances in the first team this month. Garner had played first team football before.

United sit ninth in the Premier League ahead of this match but could slip further with eight matches all being played before a ball is kicked at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend. United have eight Premier League matches to play between now and New Year’s Day, one more in the Europa League and another in the Carabao Cup. If things go well, United should be able to claw back a few points in the league, although they have some big matches coming up next week.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams;

Pereira, Fred;

James, Mata, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Grant; Shaw, Tuanzebe, Young; Lingard, Garner; Greenwood

Aston Villa:

Heaton;

Guilbert, Ngoyo, Mings, Targett;

McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane;

El Ghazi, Wesley, Grealish

Substitutes:

Nyland; Elmohamady, Engels; Lansbury, Makamba, Trezeguet; Kodjia

United and Aston Villa have played 186 times in the history of both clubs. United have won 98, drawn 39 and lost 49 times. The first match between the two clubs was played in 1892, the last match was just over three years ago. United do have a ten-year unbeaten record against the club, playing 14 times; winning 11 and drawing three times. United have scored 32 goals, conceding 10 goals and keeping six clean sheets.

The last time Villa won at Old Trafford was nearly a decade ago on the 12 December 2009, a 1-0 victory in the Premier League with the only goal of the game scored by Gabby Agbonlahor. Just one player from that United squad remains involved with the club today; Michael Carrick. Solskjaer will obviously set out to keep the unbeaten record against the Villa. United need to find a way to better their league position in December.

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copyright: JW