Manchester United have the opportunity to put the final nail in Aston Villa’s Premier League coffin this weekend, as a win for the hosts would put an end to the visitors’ 28-year stay in the English top-flight.
Louis van Gaal’s side were blown away in a six-minute spell by Tottenham last weekend, and the 3-0 defeat has left the Red Devils four points off their cross-city neighbours in the final Champions League spot.
United’s goal difference is also comfortably lower than City’s, which could prove crucial. Their lack of goal threat at Old Trafford is a key reason for this; their tally of 20 strikes is the second-lowest in the top-half of the table.
However, their home form has still been strong; United have won nine and lost just two of their fifteen matches in front of their own fans this season, and this weekend represents an ideal opportunity to take their home games won into double figures.
Only Norwich’s defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend kept Villa mathematically safe, but anything less than a win for the Villains combined with another defeat for the Canaries will consign the visitors to their fate this weekend.
Its been a truly miserable season for the managerless Midlands side, particularly on the road; they are without a win on their travels since the opening day of the season and have lost on 12 occasions.
In all, Villa have lost their last eight fixtures, shipping 24 goals in the process. No-one has conceded more than their 64 goals in the top-flight this season, and only the most optimistic of Villa fans (if there are any left) would bet against that record worsening on Saturday.
Midfielder Ander Herrera is doubtful for United, but captain Wayne Rooney is in contention having made his return from the bench in the FA Cup win at Upton Park in midweek.
Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger is unlikely to feature again this season, but left-back Luke Shaw is making good progress as he continues his recovery.
Striker Gabby Agbonlahor will sit out for Villa after being placed on a two-week fitness programme to get himself back in shape, but Adama Traore and Jack Grealish are back in contention.
League Positions: Manchester United – 5th (53 pts); Aston Villa – 20th (16 pts)
Previous Meeting: Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United – August 14, 2015
Form: Manchester United – WWLWWL; Aston Villa – LLLLLL
Key Players: Manchester United – Anthony Martial; Aston Villa – Jordan Ayew
Shoot Says: Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa