Buoyed by the opening victory over newcomers AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa will be looking to continue the winning start when they host new-look Manchester United on Friday evening. The Red Devils were far from impressive in the narrow win over Spurs and they need to show plenty of improvement in order to emerge victorious from the Villa Park.
Tim Sherwood proved an instant hero for Aston Villa last season as he steered the club away from the Premier League relegation zone, while guiding the Villans into the FA Cup final. While not easy to digest, the 4-0 loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup final did nothing to change his position at Villa Park and the manager in turn received a strong backing from owner Randy Lerner and the club board. As a result, the likes of Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair, Ibrahima Gueye, Jordan Amavi, Jordan Ayew, Rudy Gestede and Jordan Veretout all joined the club, while Christian Benteke and Jordan Delph were the only star players to leave. Some decent performances in pre-season as well as the opening victory over AFC Bournemouth are enough to suggest that the squad rebuilding process is taking even less time than expected, and no doubt the Villans will be brimming with confidence when they host out-of-sorts Manchester United. With either Daley Blind or Marcos Rojo set to partner Chris Smalling in the heart of defence, Tim Sherwood will be tempted to start powerful forward Rudy Gestede despite the fact that the summer recruit is still far from desired level of fitness. Jores Okore and Gary Gardner remain on the sidelines, but there are no other worries for the hosts.
After showing some promise last season and securing a top 4 finish in the Premier League, Manchester United have continued to spend heavily, but they have shockingly again failed to reinforce their back line. Louis van Gaal appears to have found a perfect solution to the right-back problem having recruited Matteo Darmian, but the mere fact that Daley Blind operated at centre-back in the opening game is enough to suggest something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The likes of Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger should all prove to be good signings, but the Red Devils would have been better off splashing out on a world-class centre-back and a quality striker to help Wayne Rooney. It was, therefore, not surprising to see them struggle in the opening game against Tottenham and everyone could see they were quite fortunate to record a narrow win. Even if Marcos Rojo is now available for selection, the back line will have problems against Aston Villa attackers, and there is only so much Wayne Rooney can do on his own. Phil Jones continues to miss out, while David De Gea is unlikely to feature as he continues to be linked with a move away from the club.
Aston Villa side appear to have adapted well to the summer changes and they looked decent enough in the opening clash with Bournemouth. Meanwhile, Manchester United continue to have problems in all areas of the pitch and I don’t think they have what it takes to win at Villa Park.
Verdict: Aston Villa not to lose
Best Odds: 5/4