Preview: United MUST beat Villa! Kambwala, Mainoo & Hojlund to start? Fernandes to end his drought of creativity?

United to continue to reward youth? Ten Hag to get his team firing again?

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 26 December 2023, KO 20:00 GMT

Manchester United will welcome Aston Villa to the Theatre of Dreams in the Premier League on Boxing Day. Erik ten Hag will need to get the results at home again as United seek to better their league form after an exit of the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

Villa missed their chance to rise to the top of the league on Friday evening after a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, which could be something they regret if United manage to get the victory over them. However, under Unai Emery, Villa’s form has massively changed as they look to win.

It should be a good match on Boxing Day evening with both teams likely to put on a good display of their ability, with United so far underachieving this season. The January transfer window is upon us and I am sure players will be linked to the club but United need injured players back first!

United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

West Ham 2-0 L, Liverpool 0-0 D, Bayern 1-0 L, Bournemouth 3-0 L, Chelsea 2-1 W, Newcastle 1-0 L

Goals: 6 – Scott McTominay, 5 – Bruno Fernandes, Rasmus Hojlund, 4 – Casemiro, 3 – Alejandro Garnacho, 2 – Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Christian Eriksen, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Hannibal Mejbri, Raphael Varane

Assists: 5 – Bruno Fernandes, 3 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Casemiro, Diogo Dalot, Jonny Evans, Alejandro Garnacho, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Lisandro Martínez, Scott McTominay, Mason Mount, Facundo Pellistri, Luke Shaw

Villa – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Sheffield 1-1 D, Brentford 2-1 W, Zrinjski Mostar 1-1 D, Arsenal 1-0 W, City 1-0 W, Bournemouth 2-2 D

Goals: 14 – Ollie Watkins, 8 – Leon Bailey, 6 – Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, 4 – Moussa Diaby, Jhon Durán, 3 – Matty Cash, 2 – Álex Moreno, Pau Torres, Nicolò Zaniolo, 1 – Diego Carlos, Lucas Digne, Boubacar Kamara, Jacob Ramsey, Youri Tielemans

Assists: 7 – Leon Bailey, 6 – Ollie Watkins, 5 – Lucas Digne, Douglas Luiz, 4 – Moussa Diaby, John McGinn, Youri Tielemans, 2 – Matty Cash, 1 – Diego Carlos, Boubacar Kamara, Omari Kellyman, Pau Torres

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Villa have met 56 times in the Premier League. United have won 38 times, drawn 13 times with Villa winning five times. United have scored 101 goals; winning seven penalties, scoring five. Villa have scored 37 goals; winning one penalty, scoring it.

United have kept 28 clean sheets and Villa have kept seven. This fixture can be a fiery encounter with discipline is an issue. United players have been shown 84 yellow cards and three red cards with Villa players shown 78 yellow cards and four red cards.

Peter Schmeichel, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mark Bosnich, Dwight Yorke, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley have all played for United and Villa. Steve Bruce was a former manager for Villa and player for United and Roy Keane was a former assistant manager and player for United.

Team News

Victor Lindelof (other), Lisandro Martinez (ankle/foot), Harry Maguire (groin/hip/pelvic), Tyrell Malacia (knee), Casemiro (thigh), Mason Mount (calf/shin/heel) and Amad Diallo (knee) have been ruled out due to injury. Jadon Sancho is still suspended by the club.

Anthony Martial (virus) has a 50% chance of being fit. Christian Eriksen returned against West Ham and Diogo Dalot will be eligible to face Villa. Raphael Varane (illness) missed West Ham and has a 50% chance of being fit for Villa. Willy Kambwala made his debut against West Ham.

Bertrand Traore (muscular), Youri Tielemans (calf), Tyrone Mings (knee) and Emiliano Buendia (knee) are all ruled out through injury for the Boxing Day clash with United. Boubacar Kamara is suspended. Pau Torres (ankle/foot) and Robin Olsen (knock) have 25% chances of fitness.

Predicted United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

Onana;

Wan-Bissaka, Evans, Kambwala, Shaw;

Mainoo, McTominay;

Garnacho, Fernandes, Antony;

Hojlund

Predicted Villa Starting XI – 4-4-1-1

Martinez;

Cash, Konsa, Lenglet, Digne;

Bailey, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey;

Diaby;

Watkins

Match Prediction

United have been in terrible form this season. Part of this is because of injuries with United playing ten central defensive combinations so far this season in the Premier League. This will start to change when the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof are back.

Ten Hag will need to get his team working well both in attack and defence. The attacking line is a major problem at this time with creativity lacking and the striker not getting much service – yet criticised because he has not been able to score a Premier League goal this season.

United will need to start registering more victories in the league or they could start to slide down the league table, which is not what needs to be happening. As soon as the ownership of the club is sorted and there is stability – things might start to improve. The Glazers need to go!

Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa

Written by John Walker

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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.