LONDON — Leaders Manchester United will be hoping to maintain their momentum this weekend at Aston Villa by staying ahead of Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League.
Report by Reuters
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have not lost at Villa Park in the league since 1995 and, having overtaken Chelsea at the top, go into the match high on confidence.
With Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney working well together in attack, Ferguson has to decide whether to include Javier Hernandez against a Villa side just one place above the relegation zone.
Rooney said the midweek 3-1 Champions League win at Braga had further boosted their confidence as they return to league action.
“We’re in a good position and we know we can play better football,” he said. “Now we have a run of games where we feel we can get maximum points, so hopefully we can do that.”
United have lost just once away from home in the league this season, but Villa’s Marc Albrighton said the home team were due to win.
“It’s long overdue,” he said. “We went so close in 2010 and last time out it was only 1-0 to them. It’s always a tight affair. We never make it an easy game for them.
“I still think Manchester United is the big game in the calendar at Villa Park. There’s always a special atmosphere when that match is on. All the players are right up for it.
“There’s something in the air. In my era they have been the team to beat. I love playing against Manchester United, whether here or at Old Trafford. Hopefully we can get something off them this weekend.”
United could be without defender Jonny Evans and midfielder Nani for the trip to Birmingham, but another defender, Chris Smalling, could be fit for the first time since May.
If United slip up, both Chelsea and Manchester City will be ready to take advantage if they can beat Liverpool and Tottenham, respectively.
Chelsea take on Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, fresh from a last-minute 3-2 Champions League win against Shakhtar Donetsk, while City have to bounce back from another disappointment in Europe in the form of a 2-2 against Ajax Amsterdam.
Chelsea captain John Terry is available again after suspension for racial abuse, but manager Roberto Di Matteo may choose to leave him out, as he did against Donetsk on Wednesday.