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Aston Villa v Man Utd: Preview

It’s nice to be back. Being able to blog again — hopefully, regularly — gives you a feeling that’s difficult to describe; one of blogginess. Or perhaps, should I not be too happy to be blogging when I really ought to be having a life? Who knows!

On to the preview…

We visit Villa Park today, with an excellent record against Aston Villa. Despite all their excellent form under Martin O’Neill last season, they were at the hands of 4-0 drubbings. Last year at Villa Park was witness to some excellent one-two between Rooney and Tevez for a goal. And with the forced exit of Berbatov due to injury, we might see last season’s first choice duo reunite.

Meanwhile — taking a brief detour from the preview to catch up on some of the United news of the past few days — the Daily Mail reports that we’ve signed Zoran Tosic pending work permit. But it’s the Daily Mail, which is why we’re better served waiting for official confirmation. He’s a Serbian winger, who’s a left footer and a free kick specialist apparently. EDIT: The Mirror reckons we’ve signed Tosic as well as Adam Ljajic for £9m subject to work permit. Hmm…

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to befuddle with his media comments. Sometimes, saying funny things to the media can be fun. But there comes a time when it ceases to be so. Take this case where Ronaldo claimed himself to be the first, second and third greatest player in the world, only for those words to come back to bite his shapely arse 24 hours later as Brazil nullified his influence in the game with a drubbing.

True, Portugal have been lacklustre lately, but that doesn’t excuse the complete lack of influence he had in the game. Well, even that is not a problem, as long as he doesn’t shoot his mouth trying to big himself up. Yes Cristiano, we can see that you are an excellent player. But you don’t have to tell that to us — even if you think you are trying to be funny. It’s not, and all it does is makes you look like a fool when things don’t go your way. Scott’s given a fair assessment of his quotes.

Getting back to today’s game, Villa beat Arsenal at the Emirates. And with the Gunners stuttering, they look like worthy candidates for the fourth place spot. We are missing important players — Rio Ferdinand, Berbatov, Brown — to injury. Ronaldo, Anderson and Nani return jet lagged from Brazil. Heading to away games immediately after an international is always going to be a challenge, and it has been so several times this season for us.

Villa continue to improve and impress, and the pace of Agbonlahor and Young will be a challenge to the likes of Vidic and Evans. I think Evans will have to put his ability to read the game to better use to tackle the pace of said Villa forwards.

Ferguson had some kind words
for Martin O’Neill.

“Martin has done a fantastic job. He is one of the best managers in the game, no question about that. The only way you can judge managers is how they have proved themselves over a long period and when you look at the job Martin did at Leicester, at Celtic and now at Villa, he is obviously a top manager.”

In team lineups, I hope Fergie goes for Rafael at right back if not O’Shea. I really don’t feel comfortable having Neville at right back anymore. Oh, how I miss Brown, now! EVDS should be between the sticks with Evans partnering Vidic in the centre — Evra at left back. Michael Carrick is a sure starter following his stellar showing for England in midweek and, depending on Anderson’s physical state, he might play in midfield. (If Fletcher is fit, he’ll surely partner Carrick). On the wings, Ronaldo will somehow talk his way into the side, and he’ll choose to bench Nani — because he may not want three members of the people that visited Brazil to start at once — over Park or Giggs. (And I hope he doesn’t start Giggs on the wing.)

Up front we’ll get to see Rooney partner Tevez, but if Rooney is actually down with chest infection, then we might get to see Manucho/Welbeck.

Prediction: If we are on a roll I think we should be able to beat them 2-0. Of course, with us this season, it’s always a case of which United shows up.