Aston Villa v Manchester United preview
Last Updated: November 9, 2012 1:38pm
Sir Alex Ferguson: Hoping United can stay on top at Aston Villa
Manchester United travel to Aston Villa on Saturday evening keen to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men took pole position last weekend after seeing off Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford, knocking Chelsea off their perch after they could only draw at Swansea.
With nearest rivals Chelsea and Manchester City not in action until Sunday, United have the chance to widen the gap over the duo by building on their 24 points at Villa.
The Red Devils head to the Midlands having won eight of their 10 opening league games this season, with only defeats by Tottenham and Everton marring that run.
They will be boosted by Wednesday's victory at Braga in the UEFA Champions League, when they came from a goal down to win 3-1 and secure their progression to the last 16 of the tournament.
Ferguson's side also travel to Villa Park unbeaten there in 16 Premier League games, emerging 1-0 victors on last season's trip to the club courtesy of Phil Jones' winner.
Paul Lambert's men could face a tough task overthrowing their visitors, having won one of their last 33 meetings in the league.
A woeful run of results has left the Midlanders 17th in the table and four points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Saturday's clash but they can take comfort from back-to-back wins - in the Capital One Cup over Swindon and in the league for the first time since September 15th at Sunderland last weekend.
Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi will return after a one-match ban for Saturday's home clash.
But defender Eric Lichaj is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign during the win at Sunderland.
Fellow left-back Joe Bennett is struggling to overcome a knee injury so Enda Stevens is in contention to face Ferguson's side. Striker Darren Bent is again absent with his ankle injury.
Central defender Jonny Evans is a doubt for United ahead of the visit to Villa.
Evans has a niggling groin problem, which may force manager Ferguson to push Chris Smalling into his second game in four days.
Nani (hamstring) joins Shinji Kagawa, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic (all knee) on the sidelines.
- The last four games where Wayne Rooney has netted against Aston Villa in the Premier League, the United forward has grabbed a brace.
- Villa have opened the scoring in three of the last five meetings at Villa Park with United but were pegged back to two draws and one defeat.
- United have come from behind to win 12 points this season, more than any other side.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 1 Guzan
- 7 Bacuna
- 4 Vlaar
- 2 Baker
- 6 Clark
- 14 Luna
- 8 El Ahmadi
- 15 Westwood
- 16 Delph
- 27 Kozak
- 11 Agbonlahor
Team taken from Aston Villa vs Southampton (Barclays Premier League) on Wednesday 4th December 2013
- 1 De Gea
- 2 Rafael
- 6 Evans
- 15 Vidic
- 3 Evra
- 44 Januzaj
- 4 Jones
- 23 Cleverley
- 17 Nani
- 20 van Persie
- 14 Hernandez
Team taken from Manchester United vs Newcastle United (Barclays Premier League) on Saturday 7th December 2013
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Barclays Premier League
|13||West Bromwich Albion||14||15|
|17||West Ham United||14||13|
Aston Villa v Man Utd
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert feels Belgian striker Christan Benteke has a bright future ahead of him.
Andreas Weimann says it felt like Aston Villa had "lost a cup final" after Saturday's defeat by Manchester United.
The rest of the Premier League will have been watching with a resigned feeling as Man United claimed victory.