Match Preview: Manchester United at Old Trafford

I know it's only Tuesday and I know the match is on Sunday but I'm fed up waiting and I don't think the potential for any injuries is going to have an impact on this result - maybe just the number of goals scored, so I'm moving ahead with it, because I'm desperate for some Villa banter.

Recently, Martin O'Neill came out and said that home form was the key. Well, I disagree with him. I think our form away from Villa Park is the key to where we finish this season and while he has said we've got to be better at home, I think it fairly easy to say that when and I may be wrong here, we haven't one back to back home matches in the league this season, with four at home left.


Our away form has gotten us to where we are and it's our home form that has let us down, but right now, we've got to try and find that form again and quickly, there is no point harping on about what has already happened.

It's just a pity that we've got Manchester United away this Sunday because they are the best team at home in the league. This match is only going one of two ways and all the money is on home win.

There is some good news, if that is what you are looking for, in so much that United will be without Vidic, Scholes and Rooney through suspension. The only worrying thing is, it will be Tevez, Hargreaves and Brown replacing those three (I don't know this, I'm only trying to demonstrate the quality in the squad).

Manchester United is always going to be one of the hardest places to go and when you look at the league table and look at the home column, you'll see why. They've won twelve of the matches they've played at Old Trafford and up until Liverpool gave them a lesson the other day, they'd only dropped points against one other team, Newcastle on the opening day.

Now, the bookies don't fancy us much. PaddyPower have us at 15/2 and United at 2/5 and if I were still in the game of predicting and doing it seriously, I'd say this is only going one way; a home win, but I'm not in that game any more, I'm in the hope game and I when it all comes down to 90 minutes, absolutely anything is possible.

First and foremost, Martin O'Neill has to play five across the middle. If he plays 4-4-2 then we've lost, simple. He also has to drop Carew and Heskey and stick with Gabby up front. Then, he's got to play Petrov, Barry and Sidwell (if fit) across the middle with Milner on the right and Young on the left.

Defensively, we need to be on our game and this is why we have to play Shorey, Laursen, Davies and Young. I'm picking Shorey, not because I'd rather see him there long term, only because you've got to fancy he's fitter than Bouma and as long as you're playing five across the middle and Young will be supporting him, you've got to hope it will be okay. You've also got to hope that Laursen is fit, if he's not, I'd put Carlos in the middle for him, but I fancy he'll be playing.

My only concern with changing the formation, which absolutely has to happen, is the time it's going to take the likes of Young and Milner to adapt to how they've got to play again. Some of you may remember I've slated Milner all season, but you may also remember that I said he maybe just needed time to adapt to playing with five in the middle, as it's a different game and I think he did.

Towards the last few games of us playing five across the midfield he was getting much much better and it was a shame to see the manager change it, then to start playing our most expensive signing ever at right back.

But, even if it does take time, we might as well start that learning curve against United and stand a chance of stealing something. If we go there playing 4-4-2 Sir Alex is going to know exactly how to beat us and most Aston Villa fans will see it happening too.

Playing with five across the middle, while not guaranteeing we won't get beat, gives the lads a fighting chance and gets them back into the rhythm of five across the middle for Everton the week later.

So, that is my preview. Not maybe the best one I've ever done but I just had to start talking about Villa again, as I was getting so bored reading about Gareth Barry and England.