Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more: United at Villa Park

I often write the phrase 'nothing is impossible' and always in the context of hoping that we might get something. It's starting to feel a little like buying a lottery ticket, in so much I'm definitely not going to win if I don't buy one. But what are the chances?

However, tonight and for 90 minutes, there is a chance. I mean it's eleven men against eleven men. Manchester United will come at us and that will leave gaps for us to hit into. And hopefully we can latch on to one of those balls, keep control of it long enough to play that one extra pass we need to a man running in on goal or into space so he can create that shooting opportunity.

A very simplistic view, I know, but there is a chance. We only need that one lucky goal and we can defend with all eleven men for the rest of the match. I don't mind that if we win 1-0. And it will need to be fortunate, because right now the players are not looking like they know how to win. I don't really think that is there fault and I don't think the manager has learnt quickly enough, but that is another post.

Tonight should be seen as a scrap. This is the type of match where you throw everything at them. There are no second chances and there shouldn't be a player on the pitch that doesn't give 100% and by that I mean they should chase down everything and let the Manchester United players know they're in a game. We try to approach this like we have the recent games and we will lose.

And I'm sorry, but don't start with wingers if we're going to ask them to defend so much. Pack the midfield and maybe start with two up front and have a third that can come and do more running if necessary. And if I see Jota in an Aston Villa shirt again, I'm going to go nuts. Play 4-4-2 if necessary and use the top two like they used to be used. I mean, we need to try something different.

And tonight, I'll be taking my son to the pub to watch this. I hope he sees me happy at the end of the night, I really do, because a sad drunk isn't the way a son should remember his dad. But does anyone really think we can do this? Honestly. And I wont be drunk, that was my just playing with words. I'll be steaming.

Match facts from the BBC


  • This is the 50th Premier League fixture between these sides. Aston Villa have won just three of the previous 49, losing 34 times.
  • Villa have won just one of their last 42 Premier League meetings with Manchester United (D11, L30), with their solitary victory coming at Old Trafford in December 2009.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in 20 Premier League away games against Aston Villa (W13, D7) since losing 3-1 at Villa Park on the opening day of the 1995-96 season. It is the longest unbeaten away run by one team against another in top-flight history.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa have claimed only two points in their last nine league matches (D2, L7), scoring just five goals in this run.
  • Villa have won just one of their last 27 Premier League matches against sides starting the day in the top half of the league (D4, L22).
  • The 2-0 defeat at Liverpool was the 20th time this season that Villa have conceded two or more goals in a Premier League game this season.
  • Defeat at Liverpool means Villa have lost at least 20 times in each of their last four top-flight seasons - they did not lose more than 17 games in each of their first 21 Premier League campaigns.

Manchester United

  • Manchester United are looking to become the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive matches by a margin of at least three goals.
  • United are undefeated in nine Premier League games (W6, D3), the longest current unbeaten run in the division.
  • They have won their last four matches in league and cup - their best run since winning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first eight games in charge between December 2018 and January 2019.
  • Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 11 goals in his nine Premier League matches, scoring six and assisting five.
  • Mason Greenwood has 15 goals in all competitions this season - the only teenagers to score more goals for the Red Devils in a season are George Best in 1965-66, Brian Kidd in 1967-68 and Wayne Rooney in 2004-05 (all scored 17 goals).
  • Anthony Martial is one goal away from becoming the 10th United player to score 50 Premier League goals - and the second Frenchman to do so for the club, after Eric Cantona.

The manager