After a substandard trip Last Weekend at White Hart Lane and the morale-boosting win against West Ham United in their mid-week Emirates FA Cup, Manchester United will be hosting relegation threatened Aston Villa at the Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
Villa go into the match 15 points from safety with as many left to play for this season, while the Red Devils will look to get their top-four push back on track.
United are still in the race to finish in the top four, although after last Sunday’s heavy defeat at Spurs it will take a miraculous swing of outcomes for the Old Trafford outfit to be playing Champions League football next season. Consistency has plagued the team this season and Van Gaal acknowledges it has brought much frustration.
“The players, the manager and the staff have been frustrated because we have not been consistent this season, the Dutchman said. “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.”
Although Saturday looks set to be the date that confirms that Aston Villa will be relegated from the Premier League for the first team ever, manager insists that his sides fate is not yet mathematically sealed and their opponents should prepare for a surprise.
“I went to London on Wednesday and watched Man Utd v West Ham in the FA Cup. Man Utd are Man Utd,” Black said. “I know people will say they are probably not the Man Utd of five years ago. But they a top, top football team. They went into a very hostile atmosphere and coped with it. Yes there was a little flurry near the end for West Ham, who gave it everything they had but Man Utd coped. They have a lot of good players and it’s a huge, huge task for us on Saturday. But I have to be honest – watching our players out there in training – I am relishing it.
“I am looking forward to getting there. Let’s surprise a few people.”
Wayne Rooney is likely to see some game-time again as the captain continues builds up his match fitness after being given a run-out against the Hammers. However, midfielder Ander Herrera faces a late fitness test after taking a knock in midweek, while winger Adnan Januzaj misses out once again with a hamstring injury and Bastian Schweinsteiger is not expected to return this season due to a knee problem.
Phil Jones may also be available after playing for the club’s Under-21 side on Monday. For Villa, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Jordan Amavi are both out, while Jordan Lyden will be anticipative of securing his place in the side having made his first league start for the club last weekend. Wingers Adama Traore and Jack Grealish are expected to play some part this weekend after the duo stepped up their match fitness, having recently recovered from injury.
Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata, Rooney, Martial; Rashford
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Bacuna, Lescott, Clark, Cissokho; Sinclair, Sanchez, Gueye, Westwood, Richardson; Ayew