Can Aston Villa break their home record of 20 years without a win against Manchester United on Friday night football at Villa Park?
It feels weird to say Friday night football as I cannot remember the last time a Premier League fixture was played on a Friday. This will make the weekend seem so much longer than ever before for fans of Villa and Man United. After last weekend’s season opener of the Barclay’s Premier League, football is now back and running with many talking points. Already, Mourinho has deflected his side’s woes, Arsenal suffering a loss, Man City looking stronger and Louis Van Gaal’s men have won their opening fixture.
United fans will have to look at the positives of the 1-0 win over Spurs albeit it being an own goal and the players failing to add to the score line. There were debutants for Darmian, Memphis, Schneiderlin, Romero and Schweinsteiger who all look near enough 100%. Obviously, not including De Gea in the squad did not have an effect on the team as Romero had a decent game between the sticks, pulling some saves and was not troubled too often. Memphis looked like he was gathering his thoughts at Old Trafford and absorbing the atmosphere where he intends to win titles. In style, Schweinsteiger came off the bench and was eager to get stuck in with tackles and earned himself a yellow. Although, he was guiding and pointing where the ball should be moving in possession, totally a midfield who wants to control the tempo of the game.
Next up is Aston Villa, who also won 1-0 against newly promoted Bournemouth with debut winner Gestede scoring the goal. Tim Sherwood has recruited new signings this summer in Amavi, Richards, Ayew, Crespo, Gueye, Veretout and Sinclair. However, these signings have come on the back of the club selling two of their key players in the last two seasons. England midfielder Delph joined Man City and Belgium striker Benteke left for Liverpool. These two looked like they were going to stay at Villa as they have been crucial to their Premier League campaign and Benteke’s goals have come at an important time. Now, life without them will be different and they will need to have a proven goal scorer or poacher to help keep them in the top league. It does not help with Weimann being sold too.
Van Gaal has reiterated De Gea will not be included again and Romero sets to keep his place in the side. Fellaini continues his suspension and Phil Jones remains out through thrombosis. Defender Marcos Rojo is short of match fitness. Sherwood will be without Grealish and Gil who both returned to training this week but are not match ready. Also, defender Okore is out injured.
United looked a bit edgy and were composed in possession against Spurs. In defence, Smalling and Blind were working together and Smalling was doing the hard work of interceptions whilst Blind was being cautious. Darmian looked to go forward when he could but having Mata in front of him, he had to do a lot of defending. It would seem better if Valencia was playing at right wing and Darmian at right back as they would have a solid right wing to break down. When Carrick came off, it showed United can rely on experience in Schweinsteiger but it will be interesting to see who partners who if Herrera and Schneiderlin are in midfield. We have said we want to see Rooney play up front and he was still involved in the game by helping out his team. He needs to play with freedom up front and let the midfielders do their work. Another thing to add here, Memphis would be suited to play at left wing and Mata through the middle. But then, where would Young fit in, right wing?
There is an element of creativity and pace missing in attack and Van Gaal has stated Januzaj is to remain at the club and is not for sale or loan. Whether Pedro joins United or not, Van Gaal will need to make the most players like Pereira and Lingard to shine into the squad. Before the transfer window closes, there should be few more additions. The new look Villa will be a chance for Sherwood to show what he can bring to the club and he can introduce youngsters including English talents. If they only scrape a 1-0 win against promoted Bournemouth, they will need to do more to fight against the big teams. United will need to get Rooney in positions where he get score and he likes to get goals against Villa. So it could be a Friday feast of goals, well let’s hope it is.
Possible starting XI:
Aston Villa; Guzan, Bacuna, Richards, Clark, Amavi, Veretout, Gueye, Westwood, Ayew, Agbonlahor, Sinclair.
Man Utd; Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Mata, Memphis, Young, Rooney.