Written by Dan Cancian
Twitter handle: @mufc_dan87
Manchester United travel to Aston Villa on Sunday, hoping to secure a first win in four Premier League games, after consecutive home defeats at home against Everton and Newcastle.
The Reds looked to have turned a corner on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run but since conceding a late equaliser at Cardiff David Moyes’s men have stuttered in the league, drawing 2-2 at Spurs and tumbling to successive defeats in the space of four days last week. They have failed to score in 180 minutes at Old Trafford and now sit 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
A trip to Villa Park, in theory at least, provides United the perfect opportunity to bounce back, for Villa have embodied inconsistency this season. Having beaten Arsenal away and Manchester City at home, Paul Lambert’s men fell to a 2-0 defeat at Fulham last week, on the back of a shambolic performance, and they won’t relish the thought of facing the champions. They haven’t beaten United at Villa Park in the Premier League since the opening day of the 1995-96 season.
Robin Van Persie is set to return to the starting XI after coming on a substitute during the week against Shakthar Donetsk, while Tom Cleverley is likely to replace Ryan Giggs in the middle of the park. It will be interesting to see whether David Moyes will opt for Phil Jones or Marouane Fellaini alongside the England midfielder.
Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic could return to the starting line-up, as United will look to keep Christian Benteke quiet. The Belgian hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in over 10 hours, epitomising his side’s problems in front of goal, as Villa haven’t scored in six of their last nine league games, including three of the last four at home.
Aston Villa v Man Utd pre-match stats
Aston Villa are the only team in the league this season to have not dropped any points from a match in which they have been leading.
Wayne Rooney has scored eight goals in his last 10 Barclays Premier League games against Villa, but they have all come in braces.
Aston Villa have won just one of their last 35 Barclays Premier League games against Manchester United (W1 D9 L25).
The Villans have won none of the last 17 Premier League games against United at Villa Park since their infamous win on the opening day of the 1995-96 season (L11 D6).
Wayne Rooney has netted 10 goals against Aston Villa, his joint-highest tally against any opponent in Premier League history.
No team has ever come back from 13 or more points adrift, having played the same number of games, to win the Premier League title.
Christian Benteke has now gone 10 hours and 40 minutes without scoring a Premier League goal.
Aston Villa have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League home games and six of their last nine overall in the competition.
Manchester United have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League games.
If Man Utd lose this match it would be just the fourth time in the Premier League where have lost three in a row (Nov 1996, May 2001 & Dec 2001).