A lot has changed since United last turned out at Villa Park, so let’s catch up with the goings on in Birmingham. Remember, this is a Friday evening kickoff [1945 BST] to accommodate Tuesday’s Champion’s League qualifier.
Tim Sherwood has been in charge at Villa since February. He led the Lions to the FA Cup Final last season, where they lost 4-0 to Arsenal. He previously had a brief, 28-match spell as Spurs boss. He will likely set Aston Villa up in a 4-3-3 formation that reverts to 4-1-4-1 when defending.
Aston Villa have sold two key players this summer in Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, earning fees totalling more than £40m. They will also be without Andreas Weimann, Ron Vlaar and of course, midfield dynamo Tom Cleverley.
Sherwood has spent almost all the profit on a crop of new players – seeming to have taken the advice of a Ligue 1 scout as four of them are from French clubs. Micah Richards joins for free and has been named ‘team captain’, not ‘club captain’ – that’s Gabby Agbonlahor. Fullback Jordan Amavi has joined from Nice and complements two other Jordans – Veretout in midfield and Ayew in attack. That’s right – Villa have signed three blokes from the French top flight, all named Jordan.
Scott Sinclair has made his loan move from City permanent, while other newcomers include midfielder Idrissa Gueye and striker Rudy Gestede. No news as to whether any of these are considering name changes…
This fixture last year [20 DEC 2014] saw United grind out a 1-1 draw, with a rare Falcao goal in the second half pulling the Reds level after Benteke scored early in the first stanza. The match is marred by the wrongful dismissal of Agbonlahor. This red card was later rescinded. Paul Lambert was still in charge at the time.
United won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Old Trafford [4 APR 2015] with a brace from Ander Herrera and a single from Wayne Rooney. Benteke again with the lone Villa marker.