The champions seek a first league win at Villa Park since October 2007...
The Reds will be desperate to get back on track after last weekend’s controversial draw with Newcastle United ended a run of three league wins since the Manchester derby defeat. Wednesday’s Carling Cup exit at the hands of Championship club Crystal Palace is another blot on the copybook but the culpable eleven was unlikely to line up against Aston Villa anyway with Sir Alex Ferguson selecting different sides for different competitions. The Villans, by contrast, have only had the league to concentrate on after bowing out of the Carling Cup at home to Bolton back in September. This singular focus has not aided Alex McLeish’s men however – they have only won two of their last eight games, against Wigan Athletic and Norwich City, both of these at Villa Park. United’s last three visits have all ended in draws – could Saturday’s game go the same way?
Ins and outs
Busy times are here again in the Carrington treatment room, with Dimitar Berbatov, Fabio and Rafael all receiving knocks against Palace in midweek. Anderson, Tom Cleverley and Michael Owen remain long-term absentees for United but hopefully Danny Welbeck will be ready to return. The Villa squad is in comparatively good health with Stiliyan Petrov expected to overcome the tight hamstring that caused him to miss the Swansea stalemate and ruined his ever-present record this season. USA right-back Eric Lichaj is ruled out, however.
United equalled a club record of 29 league games without defeat by beating Villa 3-1 at Old Trafford on 1 February. Wayne Rooney netted in the opening and closing minutes of the first half and was joined on the scoresheet by Nemanja Vidic shortly after Darren Bent pulled one back for the