Villa Park has been a favourite ground of Sir Alex’s down the years. United last lost at Villa Park in the League Cup in October 1999 and haven’t been defeated there in the league since August 1995. Perhaps more memorably, it has served as the stage for numerous FA Cup semi-final triumphs – 1999’s semi-final replay against Arsenal is fondly recollected but there have been wins there against Watford (4-1, 2007), Arsenal (1-0, 2004), Chelsea (2-1, 1996) and Crystal Palace (2-0, 1995).
Such statistics can act as a siren calling you to shipwreck, but Sir Alex isn’t getting misty-eyed. “Although we have a great record at Villa Park, we have never taken them for granted,” he said. “We've always had to perform there but it's been a good ground for us as a team. We've always enjoyed it. It's one of the old traditional grounds and always has a good atmosphere – their support is always fantastic. Hopefully we can keep our current momentum going as it's got us into a good position at the moment.”