Aston Villa v Manchester United: Preview, prediction and early team news

If we win our game in hand we could, mathematically, go fourth as things stand right now, but Manchester City are playing tonight and if they win, they could, mathematically, go fourth. They'd need to score a few, but they could.

You sort of have to assume they will win also as they are playing Bolton at home and Bolton anywhere but home are poor. In other games around us tonight or tomorrow; Liverpool will lose at The Library and Spurs will win at Molineux.

They are my predictions anyway. I also fancy Chelsea will lose at Everton which will make the title race that little bit more interesting, but one thing you can be assured of, now that I have predicted these results, is they won't all happen as predicted.

Manchester United at Villa Park

But, it doesn't matter what happens in the other results, it matters what happens in our one and well, you don't get much better than Manchester United. IF you want to watch a team that attack with confidence and purpose but at the same time with absolute control, then it is Manchester United.

When we beat them in December, Manchester United had twice as many passes and twice as many shots but it wasn't enough. Defensively we were excellent and when the opportunity arose for us to score, we did. We just have to do that again tomorrow. Work for 95 minutes, everyone but Gabby track back and quickly get the ball out of the danger area and you never know, we might.

We can't try to play Manchester United at their own game. That would be like me entering MasterChef; just because I know how to cook and have one or two dishes under my belt, it doesn't mean I can really cook or have any real imagination in the kitchen.

Early Team News

We know about certain injuries, so I won't dance on those stories again, instead, we know O'Neill will do his best to start with the team that started the last match so I will look at those players instead and the one that jumps out is Emile Heskey.

He came off against Spurs after twenty or so minutes and John Carew, looking like he had just woken up, replaced him. There is no doubt that Heskey looks more interested than Carew at the moment and that O'Neill wants a big man up front. If Heskey doesn't shrug off his knock, expect Carew to play, because he is the traditional big man up front and well, that is how we play.

Manchester United Prediction

This is a bit like Cherry Cola. You are surprised but you shouldn't be. What I mean is, we all know what Manchester United can and probably will do and it suits us and our style of direct counter attacking football and because of this we do stand a chance.

But there comes a time when our luck will run out and there will come a time when fatigue, mental or otherwise, will catch up with our players and it could happen tomorrow, because Manchester United are hitting the type of form that really is enjoyable to watch.

But there is one thing that O'Neill is good at and that is getting his players up for a match. He showed this last time he played United and he needs to show it again tomorrow and I think he will. Tomorrow will be a draw. United will have the majority of the possession, they'll have many more passes and a hat full of more shots, but we will have all our men back behind the ball (maybe even go 4-5-1 if Heskey is injured) and our defenders will all win a man of the match vote.

Best & Worst Case

If we beat Manchester United five nil we could go up to fourth. However, if we win and other results go in our favour the reality is we would be fifth. Worst case scenario is we find ourselves exactly where we are, seventh.

Links and Updates

Updates all day tomorrow on the match with team news as we get it, but for the rest of the day, here are some links. I post these as I can't be arsed to comment on them but you should see them.