How Aston Villa Will Line Up Against Manchester United

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How Aston Villa Will Line Up Against Manchester United
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Aston Villa host a struggling Manchester United side this weekend in a game which is hugely important for both sides.

David Moyes' men have lost two Premier League fixtures in a row and, while talks of a crisis at Old Trafford are premature, a defeat against Villa would certainly heap more pressure on the already under-fire United boss.

Villa, however, have a chance to join the Red Devils on 22 points if they are able to grab a win.

The hosts go into the game off the back of a hugely disappointing defeat to league strugglers Fulham and will need a vastly different performance if they are to get anything out of the clash with United.

Paul Lambert's men fell woefully short of what was required of a Premier League team in the match at Craven Cottage. Fulham, to their credit, looked like a different side that had played under the sacked Martin Jol—take from that what you will.

Dimitar Berbatov appeared to exert more effort in those 90 minutes than he had done in the preceding 14 games beforehand and was key to the Cottagers' win.

But irrespective of how Fulham played, Villa were poor and a similar performance this weekend will see them put to the sword—even against a United side that find themselves ninth in the league.

Here's how Villa will line up against Manchester United.


GK: Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan continues to be Villa's Mr. Reliable. The American rarely ever puts a foot wrong and has been, ever since he took the No. 1 jersey off Shay Given at the start of last year, one of the Claret and Blues' more consistent performers. Even through Villa's disastrous 2012/13 campaign, Guzan was a rock. He'll be the first name on the team sheet against United and will remain Villa's first-choice keeper for years to come.


RWB: Leandro Bacuna

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The Dutch utility man grabbed the right-back spot off Matthew Lowton on September 21 and has given Lambert no reason to take it from him. Bacuna, who signed for Villa as a right-sided midfielder or winger, has adapted to life in defence and has flourished. The 22-year-old provides stellar defensive cover and gives the Claret and Blues an extra attacking dimension down the right—something of which will be required against United.


CB: Nathan Baker

With captain Ron Vlaar set to miss out, Lambert will once again have to shuffle his defensive line. Baker played alongside Chris Heard—who was given his first start since New Year's Day 2013—at the heart of the defence, and while they did OK, Villa missed Vlaar. With Antonio Luna expected to be fit, Baker will line-up alongside Ciaran Clark.


CB: Ciaran Clark

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Clark was moved out to left-back in Luna's absence last week but will be reinstated into his more comfortable position of centre-back against United. With the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney expected to start at Villa Park, Clark and Baker will certainly have their work cut out.


LWB: Antonio Luna

Luna missed the defeat to Fulham through injury but looks to have made a sufficient recovery in order to start against the Red Devils. The Spaniard is sorely missed when unfit to play as he, like Bacuna, offers great width and an attacking presence when going forward. The full-back also has an eye for goal and will look to exploit United's right-hand side, who are excellent when going forward but can be suspect defensively.


CM: Yacouba Sylla

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Fabian Delph, who has been Villa's stand-out player this season and has been tipped for an England call, will miss the game through suspension. The all-action midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season and will watch from the stands. Lambert will draft in Yacouba Sylla in his place. Sylla's physical presence and combative style will be much needed in the centre of midfield.


CM: Ashley Westwood

With Sylla in charge of breaking up play in the centre of midfield, it will be up to Ashley Westwood to be Villa's creative source. Westwood has played 13 of Villa's 15 fixtures this season—missing the two through injury—and is certain to start against United. Westwood, along with the other nine outfield players, struggled against Fulham so he'll hope to put things right with a solid performance against United.


CM: Karim El Ahmadi

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Karim El Ahmadi had split Villa fans' opinions since his move from Feyenoord in 2012, but has since started to get most—if not all—on side. The Moroccan had one of his poorer games against Fulham last week and with Villa trailing 2-0 at half-time, Lambert decided to change it up and introduce winger Aleksandar Tonev in his place. Expect El Ahmadi to start once again this weekend.


RW: Andreas Weimann

In what is a must-win game for United this weekend, the Red Devils are sure to attack in numbers which will allow for Villa to play on the counter. Andreas Weimann, along with fellow winger Gabriel Agbonlahor, will certainly have to help out the midfield unit in order to stifle the opposition's attacks, but will be key when going forward. Weimann's pace will be vital if the hosts can get anything from the game.


LW: Gabriel Agbonlahor

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Similar to Weimann, Agbonlahor will have to put in a real shift against Moyes' team. With Vlaar sidelined, Agbonlahor will take on the responsibility of captaining the side and will want to lead from the front. And with Luna returning to the squad, the lightning-quick Agbonlahor will look to link up with the Spaniard and attack down the left.


ST: Christian Benteke

After four goals in his first four games, Christian Benteke has failed to score in his last nine. However, the talismanic Belgian, who was so vital to Villa's survival last season, has continued to cause havoc among the opposition defences and will look to get back to scoring ways against United.

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