Manchester United-Aston Villa Preview
LONDON (SE) - Aston Villa will be looking for their first home win over Manchester United in 17 years when they welcome Sir Alex Ferguson's side to Villa Park on Saturday evening.
Villa are just a point above the bottom three following a shaky start to the season, but midfielder Marc Albrighton has revealed that there is a buzz around the squad ahead of Saturday's testing encounter.
"I still think Manchester United is the big game in the calendar at Villa Park," said Albrighton. "There's always a special atmosphere when that match is on. All the players are right up for it. There's something in the air.
"In my era they have been the team to beat. I love playing against Manchester United, whether here or at Old Trafford. Hopefully we can get something off them this weekend. A win is long overdue. We went so close in 2010 and last time out it was only 1-0 to them. It's always a tight affair; we never make it an easy game for them."
Manchester United came from behind to win 3-1 against Braga in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, with Wayne Rooney making amends for his penalty miss against Arsenal with a successful spot-kick to give United the lead late on.
"Obviously I was disappointed at the weekend, not only to miss but to miss the target," said Rooney after the game in Portugal. "I said after the game it wasn't good enough and (this time) I was a bit fortunate; I slipped but thankfully it's gone in so I'm happy with that.
"At the time it happened so quick, but obviously I've seen it going towards the goal and the keeper going the other way. I was happy with it going in but obviously I've been quite lucky with that."
With United already through to the knockout stages in Europe, Rooney is hopeful that they will be able to improve in the league and put pressure on rivals Chelsea and Manchester City with a run of wins.
"We're in a good position and we know we can play better football," said the England forward. "Now we have a run of games where we feel we can get maximum points, so hopefully we can do that."
Villa are without Gary Gardner, Richard Dunne and Stilyan Petrov, while Chris Herd, Charles N'Zogbia and Darren Bent are doubtful. Manchester United remain without Shinji Kagawa and Phil Jones, and Nani, Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher are all injury doubts.
Villa's 1-0 win at Old Trafford in 2009 is their only victory over United in the last 31 league meetings. Saturday's hosts haven't won at home against United since 1995 - a run of 14 games. Last weekend's 1-0 win over Sunderland was only Villa's third win in the league since January. In that run of 26 games, Villa have managed just 19 goals, while Robin van Persie alone has scored 19 goals in that time. Manchester United have won four straight games and have also won four in a row away from home.