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Manchester United take on Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon in a match that will have major repercussions in the race for European football. While United are in the hunt for the top four, Aston Villa have their eyes set on a top six finish which would earn them Europa League football next season.
Although United are still in a strong position in the league table, they will have been disappointed by their second-half performance against Tottenham on Thursday night. The Red Devils led 2-0 at halftime after a strong first-half performance but took their foot off the gas after the break which allowed Ryan Mason’s side to come back and draw the game 2-2. It has left them in fourth position in the league table and in need of a win against Aston Villa.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, couldn’t be going into this one in better form. Unai Emery has transformed the fortunes of the club since taking over from Steven Gerrard at the end of October and has put them in the unthinkable position of challenging for the top four. They are unbeaten in their last ten games and have won six of their last seven.
The match is set to kick off at 14:00 UK time and viewers in the United Kingdom will have to wait until Match of the Day Two to watch any action from the game as it isn’t being shown on live TV.
Manchester United Team News: Alejandro Garnacho returns to training ahead of the match
After his substitutions backfired on Thursday night, Erik Ten Hag will more than likely go with the eleven that started the match against Spurs here. United will still be without Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez on Sunday which means Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw will likely continue at the heart of the United defence.
Harry Maguire, who missed the game at Spurs with an injury niggle, will face a late fitness for this one but he may miss out either way with Lindelof and Shaw looking like a more natural partnership than Maguire and Lindelof. Another player who will face a late fitness test is Scott Mctominay who has missed United’s last four games with a muscle injury.
One bit of good news for Erik Ten Hag is the fact that Alejandro Garnacho has returned to first team training. Although this game will come too early for the teenager to return, the boost of having the Argentinian back for the run-in, and the FA Cup final, is huge. What’s more, Garnacho put pen to paper a new five-year deal at Old Trafford this week putting rumours of a move back to Spain to bed.
Aston Villa Team News: Will Leon Bailey return?
Aston Villa boss, Unai Emery, is set to have the same pool of players available to him that he had for the midweek victory over Fulham. It means that Matty Cash, Boubacar Kamara, Philippe Coutinho, Leon Bailey and Jedd Steer all remain out. However, Emery did say that a few of them are nearing returns in his pre-match press conference. The Spaniard said:
“They are close, some players, Cash is close but not for Sunday. Coutinho is close but not for Sunday. Leon Bailey and Kamara are close. Jed Steer is out for the season. Maybe progressively they can train with us next week but not available this Sunday.”
One man who will be raring to go on Sunday afternoon is Ollie Watkins. The centre forward has looked like a completely different player since Emery came to the club and has netted seven goals in his last ten appearances.
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