Preview: Manchester United v Aston Villa (10th Feb 2010)

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What a great night of Premier League football – tonight we see the battle for top and fourth spot really heat up. Three top quality matches where the result can go either way. We’ve got Villa, Chelsea travel to Everton and Liverpool play Arsenal.

When Manchester United and Villa met last December, Villa won with a deserving 1-0 victory in my opinion. From memory, we were fairly toothless in attack, although Rooney hit the bar with a close range shot, Berbatov could have perhaps connected better with a volley chance and Vidic also came close with a header cleared off line by Downing.

In December, we were in the middle of our defensive injury crisis. Vidic and Evra played but Carrick played in centre defence and Fletcher played at right-back. With our two preferred centre midfielders playing in defence there was no real surprise we looked toothless in attack at times.

Tonight, with proper defenders available for selection we’ll obviously field a stronger team. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t start with the same line-up as we did against Arsenal at the Emirates last week.

However, the early substitution of Berbatov against Portsmouth surprised me. I fully expected Berbatov to play the full ninety minutes due to his lack of recent game time. Is Sir Alex Ferguson considering starting Berbatov against Villa tonight? Perhaps Fergie is protecting Berbatov due to his knee injury or perhaps Fergie wanted to further Diouf’s experience of playing at Old Trafford…

Villa are a really tough to crack, having not conceded a goal in their last five league games. I doubt we’ll see a high scoring match. Richard Dunne has been immense for Villa since he signed from City (what a mistake by City ha ha). Villa are very good on the counter attack with the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, so we will have to be aware of that threat. Milner is also having a great season and probably earned himself a World Cup squad spot.

Tonight, the game isn’t about revenge for the loss in December. It’s about three points and maintaining our title challenge. I will take an ugly scrappy one nil victory, although it won’t do my nerves or blood pressure any good (supporting United will be the death of me, ha ha).

Lets also hope for a Brucie Bonus at Goodison Park…

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