A five-star showing and brilliant performances from the likes of Michael Carrick, Nani and of course Wayne Rooney. Sir Alex Ferguson must be rubbing his hands with glee as his team face Aston Villa at Villa Park tonight, the side are in full flow and finally look like a team of Champions.
Aston Villa have the best defence in the Premier League and will look to extinguish the majestic Wayne Rooney who is in superlative form. In a dress rehearsal for the Carling Cup in two weeks Manchester United will look to flex their muscles and exact revenge after Villa won 2-0 at Old Trafford in December.
United will start the game with Edwin van der Sar, backed up by Tomasz Kuszczak as is the norm. In front of the Dutchman will likely be Rafael, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra. Rio Ferdinand is still suspended and Nemanja Vidic, though in the squad, is not fully recovered from his leg problem so may have to settle for a place on the bench.
The midfield is taking a more familiar shape as the weeks go by, Carrick, Nani and Darren Fletcher will all start the game and should be joined by both Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs as Sir Alex Ferguson looks to play a five man midfield to make sure he wins the midfield battle. Though Antonio Valencia may make the line up given his consistent performances this season, though fitting both he and Nani into the side may be difficult.
Gary Neville has been on the PR trail for Nani, “He has incredible ability, and when he performs like he did against Arsenal he is unstoppable. Players like Nani, who have such high skill levels, rely on confidence. We hope the level of performance, determination and skill he has shown in the last few games can be maintained until the end of the season because he’s a match winner for us. I think Nani can be anything he wants to be. People expect so much from young players, but it sometimes takes time. It took time for Cristiano Ronaldo to settle in at United as well.”
If the last few weeks are anything to go by then Nani should cause Villa a number of problems.
No doubt Wayne Rooney will begin the game, his record of 21 goals from 24 league appearances is amazing and he has truly stepped up to become the player the club look to. On his own upfront he will have a tough evening but he does have the quality to cause the likes of Richard Dunne plenty of problems.
Wes Brown, for one, is confident of victory, “Villa are playing well at the moment. They have some really good players. But when we met them before we weren’t playing too well. We are playing really well now.”
Aston Villa will be looking to consolidate their bid for a Champions League spot and prove their credentials once more. Emile Heskey is a doubt after limping off at the weekend against Tottenham Hotspur, so John Carew is in pole position to partner Gabriel Agbonlahor. Marlon Harewood, Nigel Reo-Coker and Stephen Warnock are the only other injury worries for Martin O’Neill’s team.
Stewart Downing has been in super form for the Birmingham side of late, along with England colleague James Milner, who has flourished in his new central midfield role. On the other hand Ashley Young is having what can only be described as an indifferent season, especially considering the standards he last during the last campaign.
United’s last defeat at Villa Park came on the opening day of the 1995/96 season, which famously prompted Alan Hansen to declare “you win nothing with kids”.
Prediction: 2-1 United
Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Evra, Evans, Brown, Rafael; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs; Rooney.
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