Preview: Martial, Rashford and Greenwood to continue goalscoring form against Villa; Solskjaer has Leicester City in his sights

Aston Villa -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Villa Park, Birmingham

Thursday 9 July 2020, KO 20:15 BST

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Ian Hussin, Eddie Smart Fourth Official: Peter Bankes

VAR: Graham Scott Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt

Replacement Official: Mark Jones

Manchester United will be back on the road on Thursday evening when the face relegation candidates Aston Villa at Villa Park. United have been in pretty good form since the restart of the season and have recently beaten Bournemouth 5-2 and Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0. Villa find themselves 19th in the Premier League, closer to safety than Norwich City but still likely to be relegated this season, which would be a shame.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be full of confidence ahead of their trip to Villa Park, after nearly five years since their last match in the iconic traditional stadium. United have not been beaten by Villa since a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on the 12 December 2009 with Gabby Agbonlahor scoring the only goal of that match. Villa should fear United, which could contribute to their demise.

Form: United’s form this season has been mixed but since the start of the year and that 6-0 demolition of Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup, they have been a different team, even moreso now.

Manchester United: WWWWDW

Bournemouth 5-2 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W, Norwich City 2-1 W, Sheffield United 3-0 W, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 D, LASK 5-0 W

Aston Villa: LLDLDL

Liverpool 2-0 L, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 L, Newcastle United 1-1 D, Chelsea 2-1 L, Sheffield United 0-0 D, Leicester City 4-0 L

Top Scorers: Villa have scored 55 goals this season, the same number of goals that Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have scored themselves.

Manchester United Goals: 20 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 15 – Mason Greenwood, 7 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Odion Ighalo, Scott McTominay, 4 – Daniel James, 3 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 2 – Fred, Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United are unbeaten in 16 matches, scoring 43 goals, conceding six times, keeping 11 clean sheets and driving forward in their bid to reach the top four of the Premier League. United will be keeping chase on a fourth placed finish this season with Chelsea recovering well after their defeat to West Ham United and rising to third place on Tuesday with Leicester City now the club United will be looking to leapfrog.

Aston Villa Goals: 9 – Jack Grealish, 7 – Conor Hourihane, 6 – Anwar El Ghazi, Wesley, 4 – Trézéguet, 3 – John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, 2 – Ahmed El Mohamady, Frederic Guilbert, Jonathan Kodjia, Tyrone Mings, Mbwana Samatta, Matt Targett, 1 – Keinan Davis, Björn Engels, Kortney Hause, Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Jota

Villa are a team in trouble this season. In their last six matches, they have drawn twice and lost four times. The club lies in 18th place in the Premier League, four points from safety after Watford’s victory over Norwich City on Tuesday evening. If West Ham United beat Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion get a good result against Liverpool, relegation could be in sight for Villa, which would be a shame but also deserved.

Team News: Tuanzebe and Jones out for United, Lindelof a doubt with back injury; Villa have four out of the game and one

Solskjaer could have three players out of action for the trip to Villa with Axel Tuanzebe out until September and Phil Jones out for a few more weeks but on Saturday, Victor Lindelof came off at half time against Bournemouth with a back injury, having a 75% chance of being involved on Thursday. Ethan Laird or Teden Mengi could be involved in the squad.

Villa could be missing five players with Bjorn Engels, Wesley Moraes Ferreira da Silva, Thomas Heaton, and Matt Targett already ruled out of the match against United. Tyrone Mings has a 75% chance of being fit for the match, which would be a big loss if he was not involved. United target, Jack Grealish was also on the injury list after his last match but he looks to be involved against United.

Predicted Starting XI: Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Greenwood to continue leading the attack against Villa; Pogba and McTominay in midfield?

Solskjaer will need to make some changes sooner rather than later, although they have a few days between matches now with Villa on the horizon on Thursday, then Southampton on Monday, and Crystal Palace the following Thursday, giving the squad a rest between matches. The squad is there to make changes, although quality is the real issue with some of the players, who need to fight for their futures.

Match Prediction: United are rarely beaten when they face Aston Villa and with the form of United versus the form of Villa, this could be an easy match for Solskjaer’s side.

United and Villa have played 49 times in the Premier League with United winning 34, drawing 12 and losing three times. In total, United have scored 89 goals conceding 29. Both United have kept 26 clean sheets with Villa keeping six. United have been awarded three penalties, scoring two, with Villa awarded one and scoring it. In total, United have received 67 yellow cards to Villa’s 67 with both teams having three red cards.

Back in December, it was a 2-2 draw between the two sides at the Theatre of Dreams with Jack Grealish opening the scoring in the 11th minute, Tom Heaton scoring an own goal to equalise in the 42nd minute, then United taking the lead in the 64th minute through Victor Lindelof with Villa equalising through Tyrone Mings in the 66th minute of the match. It was an unfortunate draw for United but a good result for Villa.

Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.