After claiming a point last time out against Chelsea, Aston Villa take on another one of the Premier League’s big six when they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side took home all three points in their clash against Wolves on Wednesday night, and appear to be hitting their stride in the league over these past few weeks.
Dean Smith will have some big decisions to make before the game, including whether to bring back Ross Barkley. The Chelsea loanee was ineligible to play against his parent side on Monday night, and has been unavailable in recent weeks due to an injury picked up against Brighton.
But if the England international is fully fit and raring to go, then Smith simply has to play him from the start.
The 33-cap star has got that ability to unlock the door and provide a bit of creativity, and that can help Jack Grealish massively. The more attacking weapons Villa have out on the field, the less likely their talisman is to get double-teamed or completely marked out of the game.
Barkley can help with that, and it’s no surprise he’s been called an “exceptional” talent.
In fact, former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer thinks the attacking midfielder may have found his perfect spot at Villa, saying: “Ross seems to have found a system that suits him and a manager who wants to play him. This is exactly what he needs.
“He now needs to find the consistency that has been lacking in his game because this is a crucial stage of his career. Ross has been spoken about in glowing terms since he was very young but he is 27 now and needs to deliver on that potential. At his best he is match-winner and Villa is a great platform for him.”
If Barkley’s fit against United, he just has to start.