Manchester United: Last-Minute Team News and Potential Lineup vs. Aston Villa

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IINovember 9, 2012

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 07:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between SC Braga and Manchester United at the Estadio AXA on November 7, 2012 in Braga, Portugal.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Manchester United have swept to the top of the table in the English Premier League courtesy of big wins over London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal in consecutive weeks.

It might not have all been easy for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, but they have managed to get the job done when they needed to and picked up the three points required of them—moving their way to the top of the ladder in the process.

The Red Devils now face an away trip this week to Villa Park to take on an Aston Villa side that has the potential to cause a few upset for the away side.

United will enter the match as heavy favorites—and rightly so—but the home side won't simply roll over in this one, and are bound to make the league leaders work for every attacking chance and possession that they have.

Let's take a look at all the latest team news for the Red Devils and see if we can predict their starting lineup against Aston Villa this weekend.


According to Manchester United's official website, defender Phil Jones will not be available for the clash against Aston Villa this weekend, but is on track to make his return from injury against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford next weekend.

However, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has also said that fellow defender and captain Nemanja Vidic will not be available until at least after Christmas.

"Nemanja [Vidic] is a long way off. We can forget about him until after Christmas, I think.

"[Phil] Jones trains with the first team on Monday with the football side, which is good, and he should be available maybe 10 days after that so things are looking better that way..."

Defender Jonny Evans is also thought to be in doubt for the clash against Villa after picking up a groin strain against Sporting Braga during the week.

Per Sky Sports:

"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."


Whilst the Red Devils don't look set to be forced into making too many midfield changes to their previous starting sides, they will have to replace Nani on the left wing, with the Portuguese international ruled out for the next two weeks due to a hamstring injury.

Sir Alex Ferguson stated via Sky Sports:

Nani is out with a tight hamstring. It will be about 10 days.

The news likely means that England international Ashley Young will start for United out on the left flank, though Ferguson does have a number of options including Anderson, Ryan Giggs and even Wayne Rooney if need be.


Fortunately, no injury news to report here for Manchester United, with the Rooney and RVP show set to continue for another big week in the Premier League.

Since making a move to Old Trafford over the summer transfer window, Robin van Persie has been simply a revelation for United, and according to fellow striker Rooney, has become the No. 1 striker at the club. Per The Independent (h/t Goal):

"I think he's great for the whole team; he's our talisman.

"He has a calmness about him, he holds the ball up well and brings players into play. We have to try and get players around him.

"Last season at Arsenal was his best season in the Premier League goalscoring-wise. He changed his game to playing on the shoulder more and getting in better goalscoring positions.

"He's obviously a great finisher. He's a fantastic player and he's a great lad to have around the squad..."

Van Persie has netted 11 goals in 14 appearances for United.

Potential Starting XI

With all of that in mind, let's see if we can piece together the lineup that Sir Alex Ferguson will use against Aston Villa in the Premier League this weekend.

Many expect to see David De Gea in goals for United here, though Ferguson could be tempted to rotate back to Anders Lindegaard in order to rest the Spanish international.

The Red Devils have been swapping between the two goalkeepers all season, and considering that De Gea has lined up for United recently against Arsenal and Braga, I think we could see the Danish international take the field this weekend.

I don't think that Jonny Evans will take the field this weekend—there simply isn't any point risking him for a fixture against Aston Villa when United are top of the table and in control in the UEFA Champions League also.

Chris Smalling was strong against Braga during the week, and will likely start against Villa here as a result. United don't have to play a Capital One Cup fixture during the week or anything, so the short turnaround won't affect Smalling at all in the long run.

With Evans out and Smalling in, I'd expect to see the usual back three at the back for United then to add experience and consistency in their defense—something that's been lacking for the Red Devils for some time now in defense.

Alexander Buttner will be in line for a start sometime in the near future, but will miss out to Patrice Evra again in this one whilst Rio Ferdinand and Rafael Da Silva will take their usual positions across the back line this weekend.

Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick were both rested during the week, meaning that they should both start in central midfield for United here. Paul Scholes will most likely be used as a second-half substitute one would think.

With Nani out, it seems likely that Ashley Young will start on the left wing for United here—especially since he didn't feature during the week either. Surprisingly, this will be just Young's fourth appearance for the Red Devils in the Premier League this year.

That leaves both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to play their "nine-and-a-half" role in attack this weekend—with both playing a little but of a true No. 9 and a little bit of a true No. 10, according to comments Van Persie made earlier this week (per The Daily Mail).

The pair have been dynamic together and have formed the strongest striker duo existent in the league at the moment, if not in world football all together.

Their strength should fire the Red Devils to victory against Aston Villa here—extending United's winning streak at Villa Park to 17 games.

Who do you think will start for Manchester United vs. Aston Villa?

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