Can Paul Lambert’s rookies come of age to get Villa on the rise?
Villa beat the drop last season, then? They finished five points above third-from-bottom Wigan, but there were a few chewed knuckles in the West Midlands after Villa’s young side left it late to secure safety. Manager Paul Lambert put his faith in youth and was eventually rewarded.
Faith in youth? The average age of the Villa side that lost 3-0 at Old Trafford in April as the Reds claimed the 2013 title was a touch over 24, with six of their starting XI aged 23 or under and their oldest player only 28. But with youthful exuberance comes inexperience, and the latter was their undoing often last term. Such as in the reverse fixture at Villa Park last November when they contrived to turned a 2-0 lead against the Reds into a 3-2 defeat. Logic suggests they’ll have learnt the lessons of last season.
When do we meet again? It’s off to Villa Park on 14 December then all back to ours on 29 March. They’ve beaten United just three times in 42 Premier League meetings, so history suggests Moyes’ Reds can pick up points again – might not be totally straightforward, mind, now that the apparently unsettled Christian Benteke has signed a new contract.
Something of a u-turn? Yep. The lethal Belgian marksmen – he scored 19 league goals in 2012/13 – had asked for a move. So important was Benteke last term that his staying may be the key to Villa’s fortunes this season. In reserve they now have Niklas Helenius (signed from Aalborg) to fire them.
Who is their star player? Benteke was the main man last season, but Austrian Andreas Weimann scored twice against United in the game at Villa Park and the 22-year-old youth product is an exciting prospect.
Any interesting facts or figures? United and Villa have met 180 times in all competitions. The Reds have won 52%, Villa 27%, with 21% ending as draws.
Read more Barclays Premier League team previews.