Aston Villa face an uphill task to improve upon an extraordinarily poor record against Manchester United when the two sides meet at Villa Park on Saturday. Incredibly, the Midlands outfit have won just one of the last 33 meetings between the sides and have not beaten United at home since 1995.
While there was hope for a new dawn at Villa under Paul Lambert this season, the reality of a club still trying to cut its costs has been all too apparent and the side currently sits just one place ahead of the relegation zone having taken nine points from their opening 10 matches.
Lambert, though, will be hoping that last weekend’s victory on the road against Sunderland can provide a springboard to lift the club into midtable. The former Norwich boss will welcome back Karim El Ahmadi after suspension, but will be without United States defender Eric Lichaj for the same reason.
Darren Bent will also be missing with an ankle injury, although the trio of Chris Herd, Nathan Baker and Joe Bennett could all be in contention after injuries.
United have suffered an injury blow ahead of the contest with the news that Nani is anticipated to be out for 10 days with a hamstring injury suffered in a 3-1 victory in Braga on Wednesday. Jonny Evans, who was also taken off in that fixture, has been declared fit.
The win over Braga represented United’s seventh straight victory in the Premier League and Champions League and Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are on fire in front of goal, while also overcoming some of their problems at the back.
"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going as it's got us into a good position," said Ferguson, according to Manchester United’s official website.
The United boss, though, said that his side would not take Villa lightly.
“Although we have a great record at Villa Park we never take them for granted,” he said.
"We've always had to perform there. It's been a good ground for us as a team, though, and I've always enjoyed it.
"It's one of the old traditional grounds. There's always a good atmosphere and the support is always fantastic.”
Aston Villa (probable)
D: Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stephens,
M: Weimann, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Bannan
F: Benteke, Agbonlahor
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
M: Scholes, Carrick
Valencia, Rooney, Young
F: Van Persie
Prediction: Manchester United’s play going forward has been formidable in recent weeks and it is hard to see Aston Villa’s defense withstanding the visitors’ attacking talent. Villa are also the joint lowest scorers in the Premier League this season, meaning they are unlikely to be able to take advantage of the weaknesses that still exist at the back for United.
Ferguson’s side should continue their good record against Villa with a comfortable win.
Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United
Where to watch: The Premier League contest kicks-off at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel with a delayed online stream available later in the day via FoxSoccer2Go.