Our live stream ahead of New Years Days Premier League match, Man Utd vs Aston Villa is now up, kicking off at 20.00 GMT
You can keep an eye on the commentary as it happens below, but first, we take a preview into the fixture, lineups, predictions and much more…
Manchester United come into the game following a scrappy 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night, a result earned through a deflected 93rd-minute winner from Marcus Rashford.
The result was harsh on the visitors, however, the win extended United’s unbeaten Premier League record to 9 matches.
Rashford’s decisive strike is currently the difference between fourth and second, and a second successive win over Midlands opposition will put further distance between themselves and the most improved side in the division.
While Solskjaer and his United squad may not regard Villa as long-term rivals in the hunt for the Champions League places, they will be aware that defeat on Friday evening would leave Dean Smith’s side in a strong position.
Sitting four points adrift of second position with a game in hand, Smith deserves the widespread praise that he has received for transforming Villa from a relegation-threatened side into a club which now have genuine ambitions to finish in the top four.
However, Villa’s recent performances have come without any added pressure on their shoulders, and it remains to be seen how they will cope with expectations rising significantly among their fanbase.
With 24 matches still to play, Smith will stress that his players cannot afford to get ahead of themselves when consistency could be a deciding factor come the end of the season.
United and Villa last met in July, with United running out 3-0 winners at Villa Park…
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
How comforting was it for the team to not panic or be desperate but going about things in a controlled way against Wolves? Because it’s not the first time they’ve done that…
“We have to know that games, so many games, are decided towards the end. It is very seldom that you can blow teams away and win at half-time. Then the subs will come on and make a difference.”
“That has happened so many times for us and the belief is there, and the discipline is there to play a certain way. We’re getting more and more used to the way we want to play.”
“We know we’ve got players who can win you a game in one second with an incredible pass, dribble or some skill. So, the belief is more and more there that we don’t have to press the panic button, yeah.”
Villa at home was a tough game last season and do you feel they are a better team this term?
“You can argue for that, yeah! They’ve been brilliant. I have to say Dean Smith has done a fantastic job. We played them in pre-season and they beat us in our one game we had before the league.”
“We know all about how tough this is going to be – they have got individual players, they’re physically strong and, defensively, they have been one of the better teams in the league.”
“When you beat Liverpool 7-2, it’s not just defending but counter-attacking with quality players. Maybe that’s the game everyone will remember from this season.”
Was it a tactical decision to replace Telles with Shaw against Wolves or is he injured? And will the strength in depth come to the fore with the hectic schedule you’ve got?
“No, Alex is fine. That was just a tactical decision we made, a change a little bit to the set-up. We have a strong squad. We’ve rotated a lot and we have not really found a settled XI this season but I don’t think it’s about that anyway this season.”
“It’s going to be about a squad of 25 to 26 players and I think, towards the end of the season, that will help us. It has to be done this way. When you leave out Scott and Fred, it’s not easy because they deserve to play every game.”
“But Nemanja and Paul played so well against Everton that I wanted that midfield against Wolves. We’ll be getting injuries and suspensions, that will happen, but I think our squad is well capable and ready for every game.”
Jack Grealish has been impressive – what do you make of him and how important is he to Villa?
“He is a player of Aston Villa and England and has only improved. I don’t want to say too much about other teams’ players but, of course, he’s a player we know we need to look out for.”
“The goal he scored last season was a brilliant goal and we’ve faced him enough times to know it is going to be a difficult game.”
You wanted the overlap against Wolves with Marcus and Telles – does that understanding need more time to develop? And are you getting enough from Aaron on the other side in an offensive sense?
“I think, against Wolverhampton, it was about getting in behind them and down the sides of them. We didn’t do that enough which is why I was up and agitated a couple of times.”
“It’s a tactical way of getting in behind teams, of course. And I think all of our players have the possibility and capability of improving, which is a good thing about this group. It’s a still young and developing one.”
You once scored four against Everton but were left on the bench in the next game, when Teddy Sheringham came in. Are you having to pick teams a week or so in advance?
“Sometimes, it’s horses for courses. Some players you feel are more suitable for some teams but, of course, you do plan ahead and, yeah, I remember those four goals.”
“I remember also the times you feel you deserve to play and you are left out. That is part of being at Manchester United. We have top players everywhere and we know that, throughout the season, if you are going to win everything, you have to contribute.”
“Anto came on and did well for half an hour, Luke came on and did really well. It’s just the way it’s going to be. The players will have to be angry with me until the next time they play because, believe you me, they are not happy when I tell them they are starting on the bench.”
Can you see the mentality is changing now within the players? They seem far stronger mentally…
“Yeah, definitely. One, they’re two years older than when I came. Two, some of them are really strong personalities that we’ve brought in and they have really been a good influence.”
“I think we have competition for places, which means you cannot go around thinking that you can just fake your way through being part of this team because you only deserve to be in a team that you contribute to.”
“I think everyone has just realised they are privileged to be part of Manchester United, such a fantastic club with a fantastic history. And when you are here, enjoy it as much as you can and maybe you will experience some fantastic times.”
“We’ve got winners like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic, who don’t really play every single game but are so influential in the group, in the build-up to games and even during games when they’re not playing.”
On assessing his squad and possible rotation…
“We’ve got a wonderful performance unit at the training ground and within this football club who look at the numbers, look at where the players are and whether they are in the red zone and I’ll certainly be guided by them.”
“But also the players, I think sometimes we can take it out of their hands.”
“Being a player before and having JT, who’s been a player at the top of the Premier League, players know when they’re in that red zone.”
“We trust them and we’re hoping they give us honest answers of where they are.”
“At the moment, momentum and confidence is a big thing for me and we’re going to keep using that.”
On preparations for facing Manchester United…
“We’ll prepare for it like we have all the rest of them.”
“We get a day more preparation time for this game (than pre-Chelsea), it’s a busy period but these are the games the players want to play in, the games they look forward to.”
“Manchester United is probably one of the first fixtures all the players look for.”
“We had a good result there last season and we feel we’re in better place than we were last season.”
“But we know the talent Manchester United have got.”
On Villa’s forthcoming fixtures…
“We were probably more fearful of these fixtures last season because there was the newness of actually getting into the Premier League.”
“But this season we know where we’re at.”
“I think we’ve proven to ourselves, by going to Arsenal and winning, going to Leicester and winning, beating Liverpool, getting a point at Chelsea, we can go and compete with the best in the league.”
“So we’re excited about those opportunities and we’ll be ready for them.”
Manchester United Premier League form: WDWWDW
Manchester United form (all competitions): DWWWDW
Aston Villa Premier League form: LWDWWD
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Hause, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Barkley, Grealish; Watkins
Anwar El Ghazi Anytime Scorer – 7/2 with FanTeam
Unless you’re an Aston Villa fan, you could be forgiven for missing El Ghazi’s recent hot streak. The Villa winger has scored five goals in his last five Premier League games, netting in four of them. Five of Villa’s last eight league goals have been scored by the Dutchman.
Manchester United are unbeaten in nine league games and have climbed to second in the league. Despite this, the Red Devils are still prone to conceding goals on a regular basis, having conceded in six of those games at an average of over one per game.
Time to take a look at our Manchester United vs Aston Villa live match stream as it happens…