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Man Utd v Aston Villa

PREMIER LEAGUE
Venue: Old Trafford Date: Sunday, 5 April Kick-off: 1600 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live; Score updates on Final Score, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 Live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; Highlights on Match of the Day


Dimitar Berbatov
Berbatov's injury is a huge blow at a crucial stage of the season

Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov has been ruled out for two weeks with an ankle injury.

The Bulgarian suffered the problem in the 2-0 defeat at Fulham two weeks ago and will now not feature in Sunday's clash against Aston Villa.

The 28-year-old is also likely to miss both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Porto and next weekend's league trip to Sunderland.

Berbatov withdrew from Bulgaria's recent World Cup qualifying matches.

With fellow striker Wayne Rooney also missing because of suspension, manager Sir Alex Ferguson is waiting for the return of Carlos Tevez after Argentina's 6-1 loss to Bolivia in their World Cup qualifying match.

Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor could be recalled to the starting line-up after being left out of the first team for the Liverpool clash before the international break.

With John Carew and Emile Heskey selected in attack for that 5-0 defeat, Agbonlahor is likely to get the nod with Heskey sidelined with a hamstring problem picked up after scoring for England in midweek.

Left-back Wilfred Bouma - out for eight months with a dislocated ankle - is unlikely to be risked, despite coming through a third reserve game in midweek with no ill effects.


Manchester United team (from): Van der Sar, Foster, Kuszczak, Neville, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Fabio, Ronaldo, Nani, Fletcher, Gibson, Possebon, Carrick, Park, Giggs, Tevez, Welbeck.

Aston Villa (from): Friedel, Guzan, Reo-Coker, L. Young, Knight, Cuellar, Davies, Shorey, Bouma, Milner, Gardner, Petrov, Barry, Sidwell, Salifou, A. Young, Agbonlahor, Carew, Delfouneso, Heskey.


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"The lads have all been away to meet up with different players in a different situation and it was possibly the right time for that to come along.

"But sometimes the staff need it more than the players.

"It was great for me. I had a week's rest and I think we have all benefited from it."

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
"We have our own standards and have dropped below them but when you are in a bad run, you want to get out of it as quickly as possible.

"It is up to us to determine how our season goes. We have a fifth of it left and we have to do something about it.

"We have been stuck on 52 points for some time and the first target is to pass last year's points tally of 60."

BIG-MATCH FACTS

8 December 2001 was the last time when Manchester United lost three consecutive Premier League matches. They've since completed 280 top-flight games.

Having lost home to Liverpool and away to Fulham in their last two outings, the Red Devils need a victory to get their bid for a record equalling 18th English top-flight championship and third consecutive Premier League crown back on track.

Aston Villa go to Old Trafford on their worst run of the season, and in danger of four successive league losses for the first time since 30 December 2006.

Villa have conceded twice as many league goals as United ; 36 to 18.

Manchester United are chasing a sixth successive Premier League victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, which would also be their 50th home league victory over the Midlanders , and their 75th home and away against them. Villa have not taken away maximum points from the Theatre of Dreams since a 1-2 triumph on 5 November 1983, with the aid of a brace from Peter Withe.

Aston Villa have lost more matches (23) and dropped more points (85) to Manchester United than to any other club in the Premier League.

Martin O'Neill has never beaten Manchester United as Aston Villa manager, but he did gain two wins over Sir Alex Ferguson when in charge of Leicester. The two men have plotted tactics against each other in 16 games in their managerial careers, 10 of which United have won and four have been drawn.

Distance between the clubs: 79 miles (128 kilometres)

CLUB FORM

MANCHESTER UNITED

Going into this round of matches: 1st 65 points

(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures)

1. Lost three successive matches in the Premier League twice. Newcastle (a), Southampton (a) and Chelsea (h) defeated them between 10 October and 2 November 1996, but they still won the title that season. Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h) and West Ham (h) enjoyed victories over them between 25 November and 8 December 2001 in a campaign when they finished third.

2. Won more Premier League matches than any other club this season. More details

3. Need to score once to total 50 Premier League goals in the current campaign.

4. Conceded fewer Premier League goals in the last five minutes than any other club (two).

5. This is their 52nd match of the season; more than any other top-flight club.

6. Let in more goals in the last two games than in the previous 17 league matches.

7. The loss to Liverpool in the last game at Old Trafford was their first home defeat in 19 league games.

8. This match precedes the home leg of the Champions League quarter-final against FC Porto on Tuesday.

9. The return leg and the FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley on 19 April will follow a Premier League match at Sunderland. The run-in thereafter is:- Portsmouth (h), Tottenham (h), Middlesbrough (a), Manchester City (h), Wigan (a), Arsenal (h) and Hull (a).

ASTON VILLA

Going into this round of matches: 5th 52 points

(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures)

1. No win in eight in all competitions.

2. Lost the last three Premier League matches, against Manchester City (a), Tottenham (h) and Liverpool (a), with an aggregate score of 1-9.

3. Picked up one point out of 15 (from a 2-2 home draw with Stoke), after a 13-match unbeaten sequence.

4. Gained one win in seven Premier League outings; 0-2, away to Blackburn on 7 February.

5. Won 50% of their league games; 15 of 30.

6. Won all but one of the 12 games in which they opened the scoring; the exception being the 2-2 draw with Stoke in their most recent home fixture on 1 March, when the Potters scored twice in the last two minutes.

7. Lost the last two on the road against Manchester City and Liverpool, making it their worst away run since five consecutive losses between Boxing Day 2006 and 10 February 2007.

8. Won 10 away league games (Manchester United have only won eight), and only five at home. Picked up 22 points at Villa Park and 30 on the road; eight points is the widest such disparity by any club in the highest league.

9. Lost the last two against 'Big Four' clubs, and not won in four against the quartet of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, since a 0-2 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on 15 November 2008 - their only win in 13 such fixtures.

10. The run-in is:- Everton (h), West Ham (h), Bolton (a), Hull (h), Fulham (a), Middlesbrough (a) and Newcastle (h).

KEY PLAYER NOTES

MANCHESTER UNITED

Edwin VAN DER SAR is leading the race for the Barclays Golden Glove with 18 clean sheets.

Cristiano RONALDO is Manchester United's top Premier League scorer with 13 goals.

Paul SCHOLES needs a hat-trick to reach 100 Premier League goals - all for United.

Ryan GIGGS is a hat-trick shy of 150 goals for Manchester United.

Wayne ROONEY has scored six Premier League goals against Aston Villa; one as an Everton player, and five in Manchester United colours.

If selected:-

Tomasz KUSZCZAK will be making his 50th career Premier League appearance (West Brom and Manchester United).

ASTON VILLA

Gabriel AGBONLAHOR is the club's top Premier League scorer with 10 goals.

Brad FRIEDEL and Gareth BARRY have started all of Aston Villa's Premier League matches this term.

Steve SIDWELL has scored the fastest goal in this season's Premier League; netting after only 31 seconds in Villa's 2-3 win over Everton at Goodison Park on 7 December.

If selected:-

FRIEDEL will be extending his record breaking run to 183 consecutive Premier League appearances.

HEAD TO HEAD

Aston Villa have failed to beat Manchester United in 23 league and cup matches, losing 20. Their last triumph was 3-0 against the somewhat under-strength visitors to Villa Park for a third round Worthington League Cup tie on 13 October 1999.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in 26 league meetings with Aston Villa. They have won 19 and drawn seven since Villa's 3-1 home win on 19 August 1995, when Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke (penalty) got the season off to a winning start. United's consolation came from a little known substitute called David Beckham; his first for the club. It was after this match that Alan Hansen famously erroneously predicted that "you'll win nothing with kids". United went on to claim their third Premier League title in four seasons.

Villa have only taken away four Premier League points from the Theatre of Dreams in this league; the most recent being a 1-1 draw on 26 October 2002. They have scored just nine goals in 23 league visits since their last win there 26 years ago.

Home and away

League (inc PL): Man United 74 wins, Villa 42, Draws 35

Prem: Man United 23 wins, Villa 2, Draws 8

at Man Utd only

League (inc PL): Man United 49 wins, Villa 10, Draws 16

Prem: Man United 12 wins, Villa 0, Draws 4

LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME

Manchester United 4-0 Aston Villa

29 March 2008 - Ref: Mark Halsey

Man Utd scorers: Ronaldo 17, Tevez 33, Rooney 53, 70

THIS SEASON'S REVERSE FIXTURE

Aston Villa 0-0 Manchester United

22 November 2008 - Ref: Chris Foy

REFEREE

Mike Riley (Leeds, Yorkshire)




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