Home comforts for the Red Devils
The Villa Park Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for United down the years, the last time they were beaten there was way back in October 1999. Their most famous win at the old stadium came in the FA Cup Semi-Final replay that same year against Arsenal when Ryan Giggs scored one of the truly memorable goals in English football history. Will our “football tipsters” predict this incrediblerun to continue on Friday?
Villa shaken then stirred
Both sides got off to a winning start on the opening weekend of the new campaign. Aston Villa had a potential banana skin of a fixture at new boys Bournemouth – A second-half goal from substitute Rudi Gestede won the game for Tim Sherwood’s side in a performance that was less than convincing. The 46-year-old former Spurs manager has made wholesale changes at Villa Park this summer after his arrival towards the end of last season, helped the club avoid relegation to the English second-tier. In the first 45 minutes last Saturday, the team played like a bunch of strangers as the home side dominated proceedings and could easily have gone into the half-time break in a comfortable position. The interval came at the perfect time for Sherwood whose team came out looking a different proposition in the second-half. Frenchman Gestede’s 59th minute arrival to replace the rather ineffective Jordan Ayew proved decisive for the Villains, who returned to the Midlands with all three points.
United toil to home win
Manchester United kicked-off the new Premier League season at home to Spurs on Saturday lunchtime. On a warm afternoon inside Old Trafford, the “Theatre of Dreams” saw a good part of the 75000 plus crowd in sleepy mood, as a largely forgettable encounter was settled by a first-half own goal by Spurs full-back Kyle Walker. There were however, positives for the faithful to take home with them and coach Louis van Gaal will have been delighted with the debut of Italian international right-back Matteo Darmian. His man of the match performance was the stand-out headline from the game. There were gasps of astonishment before the match when it was announced that Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea had been left out of the squad in favour of new Argentinian shot stopper Sergio Romero – De Gea’s future hangs in the balance with a move to Real Madrid expected before the end of the summer transfer window.
After his “Super sub” appearance last weekend,Gestede looks set to retain his place in Friday’s starting XI at the expense of Ayew. Apart from the one change up front, Sherwood will probably stick with the same 4-3-3 formation that took to the field at Bournemouth. Highly rated young midfielder Jack Grealish is available for selection after injury but Sherwood may opt to give him a place on the substitute’s bench. Veteran midfielder Joe Cole captained the Under 21 side against Stoke City on Monday night and he too is likely to watch proceedings from the dugout. 25-year-old English midfielder Ashley Westwood celebrated receiving a new five-year deal with the club this week and will be desperate to put in a stellar performance on Friday.
Coach Louis van Gaal also looks set to start with the same Manchester United XI that lined-up against Spurs. Giant Belgian midfielder MarouaneFellaini is still suspended following the red card he received in the final league game of last season at Hull City, and England defender Phil Jones is unavailable as he recovers from mild thrombosis. Spanish goalkeeper De Gealooks set to sit this one out too as speculation over his future continues, with Romero keeping his place between the posts.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Aston Villa (4-3-3) Guzman; Amavi, Clark, Richards, Bacuna; Westwood, Gueye, Veretout; Sinclair, Agbonlahor, Gestede,
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) Romero; Shaw, Blind, Smalling, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Carrick; Young, Depay, Mata; Rooney
Head to Head
The last ten league meetings between the two sides have produced eight wins for United and two draws. The Red Devils are actually unbeaten in 20 away meetings with Aston Villa. The Midlands side’s last victory over Friday night’s opponents came back in December 2009 when they surprisingly won 1-0 at Old Trafford. The corresponding fixture last season ended all square at 1-1 with vanGaal’s men comfortably winning the return encounter 3-1 back in April. Take a look at our “football betting experts” view on this match.
Aston Villa 6.00 Draw 3.80 Manchester United 1.66
Odds courtesy of Bet365
By Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)]]>