Given their league position, it would be easy to assume that Villa will not be a significant threat to United, but they have amassed wins against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. Given United’s woeful home form, they cannot afford to even consider taking this game for granted.
Whilst the impending challenge of Bayern Munich may loom on the horizon, Moyes is unlikely to rest too many of his key players ahead of that game. His approach has been markedly different against so-called "lesser" opposition than it has been against for the more daunting fixtures, as evidenced by the huge differences in personnel and tactics between the West Ham game and the game against City.
Moyes is likely to return to the more fluid 4-2-3-1 that saw United control possession and emerge victorious against the Hammers, rather than the misshapen 4-5-1 that faced City.
In goal, the man who should win United’s player of the season at a canter will retain his place.
At full-back, Rafael’s performance against City should not lose him his place. He was excellent against West Ham, and his contribution has been generally positive in recent weeks. Patrice Evra may have been a candidate for a rest ahead of Munich but given that he is suspended for that game, it is likely he will face Villa’s pacey, counter-attacking style.
In the heart of defense, ongoing injury problems have limited Moyes’ options.
If Jonny Evans is fit, he is likely to start alongside Phil Jones. Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic may find the game comes too soon for their recoveries from injury, and Rio Ferdinand is surely not in consideration given how soon the game comes on the heels of his start against City. If Evans is not fit, then Michael Carrick is likely to reprise the role he played against West Ham.
In the centre of midfield, it seems a good option to start Darren Fletcher. He performed excellently against West Ham and has had a week to recover from that fixture. Marouane Fellaini was a fine partner for Fletcher, although his performance against City was of questionable efficacy.
Tom Cleverley was substituted at half-time and is unlikely to appear. With Carrick potentially called on for defensive duties, it would not be a surprise to see Fellaini and Fletcher form the centre of United’s spine. If Carrick is not needed at centre-back, expect him to partner the Belgian.
In forward positions, as ever, Moyes has big decisions to make. Antonio Valencia's excellent performance against Olympiakos, for which he earned the mother of all shiners, was one of a number of good European outings for the Ecuadorian. With that in mind, perhaps Moyes will save him for Munich.
Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata linked well with Wayne Rooney against West Ham, and it would not be a surprise to see Moyes try and repeat the trick. Danny Welbeck will be most likely see action against Bayern, rather than Villa.
Adnan Januzaj's form has dipped of late, as he has seen much less action, but he could be preferred to Young with a view to playing the youngster back into form.
My predicted line-up is below. Do feel free to share yours in the comments!
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