All you need to know about Villa v United
Aston Villa are next on the agenda in the Premier League, as Manchester United embark on a hectic run of three top-flight games in five days.
It's the first time the Reds have had to play so many league matches in such a short amount of time since the 1991/92 season, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to call on his squad at the end of what has been a draining campaign.
Sunday's hosts have little to play for having realistically secured their Premier League status for another year before Christmas. However, a top-half finish is still very much on the cards for the Villans, who are looking for a first home league win over United since August 1995, and were excellent in their last game when winning at Everton.
Here's everything you need to know...
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE MATCH?
The match kicks off at 14:05 BST on Sunday and will be broadcast live in the UK via Sky Sports. You can also follow the action via ManUtd.com and our Official App, where you’ll be able to check the live in-game data through our Match Centre. MUTV will also be providing build-up, live radio commentary and post-match reaction, and will show full reruns of the 90 minutes from the following day.
United look set to be without Daniel James and Anthony Martial, who missed Thursday's trip to Roma for the Europa League semi-final.
Villa will definitely be without Egypt international Trezeguet, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the game with Liverpool at Anfield last month. January signing Morgan Sanson is also out with a knee issue. Jack Grealish will not feature either due to a shin problem – the 25-year-old playmaker has missed the last 11 league games, during which Villa have won just 12 points (as opposed to 36 in the 22 matches he did feature in).
United have won five of our last six Premier League fixtures, with the 0-0 draw at Leeds last time out the only blip in that time. The Reds are unbeaten in 24 away games in the top-flight, a club record run which includes last season’s comprehensive 3-0 success at Villa Park. Only Arsenal, with a 27-match sequence between 2003 and 2004, can better our current run and a draw or a win at Villa Park will leave us just one game away from an entire league campaign without defeat on the road, something which has only been achieved three times previously, by the Gunners twice (2001/02 and 2003/04) and Preston, way back in the 19th century.
The home side’s early-season form saw them rank as one of the contenders for a Champions League place at the turn of the year, with Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal all falling to defeat against Dean Smith’s men. Their recent record has been a little patchy, however. As mentioned, Villa beat Everton last time out, but haven’t managed consecutive wins since December. The Midlanders have won three, drawn two and lost four of their nine home league games this year.
The Reds famously have a great record at Villa Park, and we are unbeaten at the Birmingham venue since 1999 – an incredible run stretching back 23 games. Even that loss came as Sir Alex Ferguson rotated his side in the League Cup and you’d have to rewind to August 1995 for the last United league reverse at the ground, with Villa prevailing 3-1 on the opening day of that particular season. We have won on five of our last six visits, including last July’s three-goal victory, achieved thanks to goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba. Fernandes hit the winner from the spot in this season's meeting, on New Year's Day, which ended 2-1 to the Reds at Old Trafford.
ONES TO WATCH
Ollie Watkins has flourished in his first Premier League campaign, with the former Brentford man playing the full 90 minutes in every one of Villa’s 33 games so far. In that time, he’s scored 13 league goals – Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Patrick Bamford are the only Englishmen who can better that tally.
At the other end of the pitch, summer signing Emiliano Martinez has also impressed, with only Ederson and Edouard Mendy topping the Argentinian’s mark of 14 clean sheets – although none of these have come in the former Arsenal man’s last seven appearances. Still, Martinez has established himself as firm first choice at Villa Park, after a 2019/20 campaign in which the Villans used four different goalkeepers.
Smith is a born and bred Villan – his late father Ron used to be a steward at Villa Park. Appointed to the job in October 2018 on the back of an impressive three years at Brentford, Smith guided Villa to promotion through the play-offs at the end of his first campaign in charge. The West Midlanders looked set for relegation back to the Championship last summer, but a late run of eight points in the final four games secured safety and Smith and his side have gone from strength to strength since, memorably thrashing champions Liverpool 7-2 in early October last year. Despite a mixed 2021 so far, the seven-time English champions require just one point to record their highest top-flight tally in over a decade.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.
FRIDAY 7 MAY
Leicester v Newcastle (20:00 BST)
SATURDAY 8 MAY
Leeds v Tottenham (12:30 BST)
Sheffield United v Crystal Palace (15:00 BST)
Manchester City v Chelsea (17:30 BST)
Liverpool v Southampton (20:15 BST)
SUNDAY 9 MAY
Wolves v Brighton (12:00 BST)
Aston Villa v UNITED (14:05 BST)
West Ham v Everton (16:30 BST)
Arsenal v West Brom (19:00 BST)
MONDAY 10 MAY
Fulham v Burnley (20:00 BST)