- United sits four points out of fourth place
- Villa needs to win out, hope for help in order to remain in Premier League
- Red Devils have won 3 of last 5 PL matches
Manchester United will host Aston Villa from Old Trafford on Saturday, with each side playing for something different but very important (Watch live, 1o a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
The Red Devils come into this weekend’s clash with Villa after holding off West Ham United in the FA Cup quarterfinals. With their attention firmly on that competition, United’s chances of finishing top four in the PL may not be overly promising. That being said, Villa doesn’t exactly pose a great threat.
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Young attackers Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have been significant findings for a United side that has lacked creativity in the attacking third for much of the season. With Wayne Rooney nearing a return though, the Red Devils could make a solid push for a Champions League spot down the stretch if they can string together a few straight results.
After winning their opening PL match against Bournemouth, Aston Villa didn’t find their second victory under January. It has always seemed unlikely that the Villans would remain in England’s top flight beyond the 2015-16 season, particularly after Remi Garde’s failed spell as manager.
[ MORE: Relegation battle shapes up when Norwich hosts Sunderland ]
With just 16 points in 33 matches, Villa aren’t mathematically eliminated, but would have to win their remaining five fixtures and receive help from Norwich City. Jordan Ayew‘s six goals leads the team, although Villa has only managed an underwhelming 23 finishes this season.
What they’re saying
Manchester United’s Louis Van Gaal: “The players, the manager and the staff have been frustrated because we have not been consistent this season. When you have to line up a different team up every week because of injuries, it is difficult to make a consistent team-building process. Still, we are in the race for the first positions in the league and we are still in the FA Cup, so I am very happy that we can do that.”
Aston Villa manager Eric Black: “I didn’t know the Norwich result [last week] until I’d spoken to the players in the dressing room because I wasn’t interested. I really wasn’t. I know people will automatically say ‘you should have been interested because we’re going down’. But I was only interested in what we’d done on the Saturday and that will be the same this Saturday, no matter what the Norwich result is.”
It’s hard to see anything other than a United win on Saturday. The Villans could very well be eliminated from PL survivorship if Norwich City takes a point from their fixture against Sunderland, and even if they don’t the task of staying up seems a long shot. The Red Devils have too much talent for Villa, so I’ll go 3-0 United. Best wishes to Aston Villa in the Championship.