Friday, December 11, 2009

Preview: 'United v Villa' (12-12-09)


Ji-sung Park is a man on a mission - to help United vanquish Aston Villa.

A win would at least keep Chelsea within reach - the Blues are now two points ahead - and could even put the Reds top if the leaders slip up at home to Everton.

Victory is far from a formality, however, even if United have won the last seven at home to Villa. As Park warns, history will count for little at 17:30 GMT on Saturday.

The Korean told United Review, “We have a good record against them but we have to look at the present - our past results won’t help us this time.

"Villa have been strong for the last few years and they’re more determined than ever to break into the top four. This season they have performed very well."

United's industrious winger is impressed with the squad Martin O’Neill has built at Villa Park, and knows the Reds will have to be on top form.

"They have a really strong team. Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, James Milner and Emile Heskey are all good. We'll have to be at our best."

Nemanja Vidic will return to bolster United's defence against Aston Villa on Saturday, but the Serbian will still be only one of two recognised defenders in the back four.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed to his Friday press conference that Vidic has overcome a recent bout of flu, and is likely to be joined by Michael Carrick in the centre of defence, with Darren Fletcher extending his recent stint on the right side of defence. Patrice Evra will continue at left-back.

"Having Vidic back is good news for us," said the boss. "Villa are prolific crossers of the ball so it's important to have someone like Nemanja in there.

"And if Villa play Heskey and Carew up front then we'll have a formidable task in dealing with them because they are big lads. But I think Vidic is the one player who can cope and we're delighted he's back.

"Michael will continue in the centre alongside Vida and Darren will play at right-back. We're certainly encouraged by the fact that players like Michael and Darren can adapt to playing in different positions and help us cope with the current situation."

The Reds' glut of rearguard concerns should ease, however, in the coming days and weeks. Rafael has started training, and is likely to be available for Tuesday's meeting with Wolves, while the same goes for Wes Brown, who starts training again on Friday. Edwin van der Sar remains out of action, but should return next weekend.

Gary Neville, Jonny Evans and John O'Shea are all still out, with Evans due back within a fortnight and O'Shea likely to be back for Leeds' FA Cup visit.

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