Monday clash to get a flyer

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: April 22 2013, 20:11 BST

David John suggests there could be some early goal activity when Manchester United host Aston Villa on Monday night.

Lambert: Battling hard to survive in the top flight.
Lambert: Battling hard to survive in the top flight.

The two sides may be poles apart in terms of aspirations currently but that should not detract from a potentially lively encounter.

So it would be no surprise to see the deadlock broken with both teams looking to make a speedy exit from the traps.

Manchester United v Aston Villa (2000BST)

"We expect a scrap," was Sir Alex Ferguson's summing up ahead of Monday night's potential title-sealing game in the Premier League against Aston Villa.

Depending on how Manchester City fare at Tottenham on Sunday, a victory over Paul Lambert's side could mean a 20th domestic league crown for the Red Devils under Fergie.

He is right to anticipate the game not being a pushover though as Villa strive to maintain their position in the top flight. They are not making a bad fist of it either with 10 points from a possible 15 recently.

They certainly look a much improved outfit compared to the shambles that shipped 15 goals in three games over the Christmas period but such was the dire state of their situation, that good recent form still can't seem to secure any breathing space between themselves and the bottom three.

Lambert has stuck with his policy of giving youth a chance - even after that notorious sticky patch - and it is likely to pay dividends looking at the bigger picture even if they are relegated this season to the Championship.

Players like Christian Benteke (15 Premier League goals), Andreas Weimann and Matthew Lowton have thrived as their confidence has grown so Lambert has to be commended for nurturing the talent at his disposal.

This has tended to be a pretty routine three points for the hosts historically with Villa managing just one win and a draw from their last 12 visits to Old Trafford.

So it does shape up like a bit of a free hit for Lambert and any sort of return would look like a triumph. Even a good display in defeat would give them some momentum with pivotal games against Norwich, Sunderland and Wigan on the horizon as the campaign comes to a close.

Figuring out the dynamic of the game will be interesting as it depends greatly on how the relevant results play out over the weekend but this fixture has had a rash of early goals in recent encounters.

It is an oft-used cliche to suggest both teams will want to make a fast start but the old adage may just pay off on this occasion financially - a goal inside the first 15 minutes gets a tentative vote at 8/5 with Hills.

Verdict: Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 1

  • Preview posted at 1130 BST on 20/04/2013.