Preview: United ready to face Villa at Old Trafford with Rashford ready to continue goalscoring run with six goals in last six matches

Manchester United -v- Aston Villa

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 1 December 2019, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Craig Pawson  Assistants: Ian Hussin; Darren Cann Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor

VAR: Kevin Friend Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Sunday 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.

Form: Three wins, one draw and two defeats for United and three wins and three defeats for Villa – both teams have one clean sheet in their last six matches.

Manchester United: LDWWLW

Astana 2-1 L, Sheffield United 3-3 D, Brighton And Hove Albion 3-1 W, Partizan Belgrade 3-0 W, Bournemouth 1-0 L, Chelsea 2-1 W

Aston Villa: LLWWWL

Newcastle United 2-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 L, Liverpool 2-1 L, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 W, Manchester City 3-0 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 L

Top Scorers: United have scored in each of their last four matches, scoring three goals in the three games that preceded the Astana defeat; Villa has scored in each of their last four games, despite losing three of them.

Manchester United: 28 goals scored for United this season with Rashford leading the line as the top scorer with 10 goals to his name.

Goals: 10 – Marcus Rashford, 5 – Anthony Martial, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 1 – Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Jesse Lingard

United have seemingly turned a corner after a period of poor results of late. Two defeats in the last nine matches, two draws and five wins. The defeat to Astana on Thursday is something that some have drawn negatives from, however, youth was blooded in the team with other players afforded a break ahead of ten matches between now and New Year’s Day. The moaning is starting to become incessant!

Aston Villa: 30 goals scored for Villa this season with Hourihane the top scorer with five goals to his name.

Goals: 5 – Conor Hourihane, 4 – Anwar El Ghazi, Jack Grealish, Wesley, 3 – John McGinn, 2 – Trézéguet, Douglas Luiz, 1 – Keinan Davis, Ahmed El Mohamady, Frederic Guilbert, Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Jota, Matt Targett

The return to the Premier League has not been the best for Villa, who, before any matches have kicked off this weekend were 15th in the league table, three points adrift of United in ninth place. One win in the Premier League in November puts the pressure on the manager and the players to deliver at Old Trafford, something that have not done for nearly a decade.

Team News: Scott McTominay could be back in action against Aston Villa; Paul Pogba still out of action for another week, maybe?

Solskjaer could be boosted with the return to both Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay in midfield, which may not be enthralling in terms of Matic but more experience will be available. Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo will be out of action for at least another week. The trio of Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Diogo Dalot may not be available until the visit of Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

Thursday’s defeat to Astana has seen many young players blood into the first team and the likes of Ethan Laird, James Garner and Dylan Levitt could offer something going forward this month, which would be good to see and leaves Solskjaer with a bigger squad should he need to use it. Many will be looking forward to Pogba returning to action, which might happen against Manchester City next weekend.

Villa could see Bjorn Engels back in action whereas Jose Peleteiro may be out for a further week. Both Jed Steer and Keinan Davis will be out of action with the former having no return date and the latter likely to be available around mid-December. Villa will no doubt be boosted by their victory over Newcastle United last weekend and with United losing on Thursday, despite a young squad playing, they may be confident.

Predicted Starting XI: Wholesale changes following defeat to Astana with fully fit and rested players returning to action to face Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer will make multiple changes from the Astana defeat with the majority of the first team squad being rested for the trip to Kazakhstan. I would expect David De Gea to return in goal and the back four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof (although Axel Tuanzebe has been hinted to start by the manager), Harry Maguire and Brandon Williams. The midfield trio could see Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay bolster the middle of the pitch with a forward trio of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Anthony Martial leading the line.

Match Prediction: United unbeaten against Villa for nearly a decade, 14 matches played since their last defeat, 32 goals scored, 10 goals conceded and six clean sheets.

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.

Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa

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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.