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United take another 3k down to Birmingham for a another televised kick off at 17.30 on Saturday.  Keen to pitch their biggest asset in the Football League against BT Sport’s main PL slot – the 17.30 kick off time has been made our own recently and no doubt will be many more times this season.  Two goal victories against Brighton and Derby would be appreciated if replicated again.

I’m not going to go on about my dislike of Aston Villa.  People on twitter (who don’t go to games and have never been tovillapenis Villa to watch United) tell me I’m wrong to dislike them and it’s embarrassing.  Okay.   It’s not really a special game, no one gets nervous or really cares that we beat them more than any other team.  I like it when they lose and their arsehole performance in 09 saw justice in the way their club has imploded since.  They were arseholes in May as well, but that’s what they are.

I’m surprised that having got what they wanted – a new owner and proper investment in the playing squad, many Villa fans continue to shun the club.  Attendances have dipped below 30k.  It’s all well and good saying you’re a big club but when 30% of your match going fans just can’t be bothered with you, it suggests football may not be particularly popular in the Aston area considering Villa are the only local club.  Despite being mental, the new owner and players deserve better than closed stands and local apathy.

That said, the Villa fans who do turn up seem to be getting behind their side and accepting the difficult start they had.  It would be a massive blow if Villa were to suffer successive relegations and they start Saturday’s game just three points ahead of Blackburn Rovers having won one, lost two and drawn five of their fixtures this season.  So they’ve actually lost one less fixture than United and are unbeaten at home.  Draws kill you in this league and despite being harder to beat than United, Villa could find themselves ten points behind us at 20.00 on Saturday despite losing the same amount of league games.

United’s lack of draws (and therefore number of victories) has been impressive.  The loss to Wolves was a shock, but in vamosrafa-adthis ‘difficult run’ of fixtures wins a Derby and QPR and a defeat, were far better than two away draws and the home win.  The win against Wolves on Tuesday was again regulation and should have been by one or two more.  The first goal is crucial with United.  We cruise when we get it, struggle when we don’t.

I was at Derby and really liked Colback and Shelvey as a two in midfield and Hayden struggled last Saturday.  Goufrann has to start as we seemingly can’t win without him.  Dummet will revert at left back unless Rafa wants to give the recently impressive Clarke a run out at left back at his former club.  Up front – I’d imagine Gayle will start with Diame but to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if it was any combination of the four strikers.

It’s a hard game to call. I absolutely have faith in Rafa to win this game.  Villa have had a week off to prepare and as much as I loathe them, I’ve watched them twice this season and they deserved 6 points and got one (Sheff Wed & Forest) so I’d hate this game to be the game their luck turned.

With this game and Norwich on Wednesday four points would be an excellent return and give us a total of 13 of 18 from Brighton, Derby, QPR, Wolves, Vile & Norwich.  That’s more than two points a game and that kind of form gets you promoted.  It would be nice to get back to the defensive solidity that provided the wins against Brighton and Derby, so much better required from the two centre backs and the two full backs than they served up against Wolves.

Prediction:  1-1

Alex Hurst

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