A relentless run of matches continues for Aston Villa on Saturday when they head north to face mighty Manchester United.
Fresh off a 1-1 midweek draw with Chelsea in the third round of the Carabao Cup, in-form Villa look to win their second-straight Premier League contest for the first time this season.
The Villans toppled Everton, 3-0, last week with a convincing performance at Villa Park. Matty Cash opened the scoring in the 66th minute before substitute Leon Bailey created a pair of goals in the 69th and 75th minutes.
Manager Dean Smith had this to say with regards to his side’s form:
"“We took that positivity into the game against Everton and it was a bit of a chess game for 60 minutes, but once we got our first goal it was all guns blazing and a comfortable win in the end. We feel like there’s a lot of confidence and belief in the group and we feel like we’ve got a talented group, so there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.”"
Leading the line for the Red Devils will be Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s scored three times in two Premier League appearances this season. The legendary forward has made 14 appearances against Villa in his career, winning 13 times and scoring nine goals.
United are one of three unbeaten Premier Leagues teams, having won four times in their opening five matches. Fresh off a Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham midweek, United–Prem top scorers with 13 goals–have secured all three points in 18 of their previous 21 matches vs. Villa at Old Trafford.
Villa took a 1-0 lead into halftime the last time the two sides met on May 9, 2021. Bertrand Traore scored in the 24th minute, but a three-goal second half saw the Red Devils cruise to a 3–1 victory at Villa Park.
The last time Aston Villa beat Manchester United in the league was on December 12, 2009. Gabby Agbonlahor scored the only goal that evening at Old Trafford.
Manchester United vs. Aston Villa Team News
Smith said on Thursday that Bailey and Morgan Sanson are both unavailable for Villa’s trip to Manchester on Saturday.
Bailey suffered a muscle strain in the win over Everton, and Sanson, who missed four months before featuring on Wednesday, was forced to exit before halftime at Chelsea. Both are out until after the October international break.
John McGinn injured his head last Saturday but is available to Smith this weekend.
For United: Edinson Cavani is available for selection for the first time this season. Marcus Rashford and Amad Diallo are the only first-team players still out.
Aston Villa likely to stick with 3-5-2 formation
Having deployed a 3-5-2 formation in the previous two league matches, Smith has a decision to make ahead of the United clash.
Axel Tuanzebe has featured in Smith’s back three but is unavailable against United, his parent club. The gaffer stated on Friday: “We have to decide whether to go to a back four or stick with a five.”
Given Kortney Hause’s sparkling performance at Chelsea on Monday, it’s safe to assume the 26-year-old will replace Tuanzebe in the three-man backline. Villa’s 3-5-2 stymied the Everton attack last week and was formidable in a loss at Chelsea the week prior.
Expect no other changes from the Villa line-up that faced Everton other than Hause in for Axel.
Aston Villa projected Starting XI: Martinez; Konsa, Hause, Mings; Cash, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, J. Ramsey, Targett; Watkins, Ings
Manchester United projected Starting XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
Date/time: Saturday, September 25 at 12:30 PM BST/7:30 AM EST
Ground: Old Trafford
Referee: Mike Dean
TV/Streaming UK: NA
TV/Streaming US: Peacock