Victor Lindelof.

Team news for United's New Year's Day clash

Thursday 31 December 2020 13:30

Manchester United welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford for our first game of 2021 on Friday night.

The Reds can move level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool with a victory but the Midlanders have been in fine form all season, and are fifth in the table, with two games in hand on the Merseysiders and third-placed Leicester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to rotate his squad again for this latest festive fixture, with Edinson Cavani now ruled out through suspension. At the back, Victor Lindelof missed the dramatic win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, due to his back problem, and the Swede could be absent again, despite training with the group, although Eric Bailly was excellent alongside Harry Maguire in helping keep a clean sheet.

Ole's pre-Villa press conference Video

Ole's pre-Villa press conference

The boss was quizzed about United's recent form, our squad depth and Villa's threats in his latest media briefing...

Ole has attempted to keep his midfield fresh, with Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba replacing Fred and Scott McTominay against Wolves, meaning he has another big call to make in that area of the pitch.

"We have a strong squad," he said. "We’ve rotated a lot and not really found, you’d say, a settled XI this season but I don’t think it’s about that anyway. It’s going to be about a squad of 25-26 players and I think, towards the end of the season, that will help us. It has to be done this way.

“When you leave out Scott and Fred, it’s not easy because they deserve to play every game. But Nemanja and Paul played so well against Everton that I wanted that midfield against Wolves. We’ll be getting injuries and suspensions, that will happen, but our squad is well capable and ready for every game."

Alex Telles is fit, despite being subjected to a heavy challenge in midweek and being replaced at the interval by Luke Shaw.

"Alex is fine," explained the manager. "That was just a tactical decision we made, a change to the set-up."

Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have been out through injury but, hopefully, there are still a number of options available as Aaron Wan-Bissaka returned from injury on Tuesday.

Cavani led the line in the win over Wolves, but is now suspended for three games, with Anthony Martial a likely replacement after starting on the bench. Mason Greenwood promoted his claims with an encouraging display on the right, while Juan Mata was back among the substitutes.

"Sometimes, it’s horses for courses," explained Solskjaer. "Some players feel more suitable for some teams but, of course, you do plan ahead. We have top players everywhere and you know that, throughout the season, if you are going to win everything, you have to contribute."


Influential centre-back Tyrone Mings returns from suspension after missing the impressive 1-1 draw at Chelsea. The Villans will look to take advantage of their extra rest ahead of the game and are unlikely to make too many changes. However, Ross Barkley could return from an injury lay-off and ex-Red Tom Heaton has been on the bench for the past couple of games after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Wesley and Trezeguet are set to still be unavailable for manager Dean Smith, who will look to talismanic midfielder Jack Grealish to shine, as he did in this fixture last season.