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Nic Ladds 11th Dec 2009 - 21:22

Red Devils to continue to be Villa's bogeymen

Those who like myself took one look at Manchester United's defence midweek and thought they had no chance were counting the cost as they cruised to victory and more caution should be heeded this weekend at 1/2 United take on 6/1 Aston Villa.

You have to back to August 1995 for the last time Villa beat United in the Premier League, that's a whole 14 years ago when this writer was playing with Monster In My Pockets, Take That in their original guise were number 1 and Dwight Yorke and Savo Milosevic were leading the line for Villa.

The Villans have been getting stronger over recent years and under Martin O'Neill do look to be realistic contenders for the top European places but their dire record against United speaks for itself and even a draw at 3/1 looks a daunting task.

United stunned German champions Wolfsburg in the Champions Legaue, turning up with one recognised defender (Patrice Evra) but only conceding one and scoring three courtesy of Michael Owen who is 33/1 to bang another hat-trick in and really catch the attention of Fabio Capello.

Wayne Rooney though is the England striker more likely to feature and his record of five in his last five against Villa and five in his last five Premier League appearances make him a strong candidate for first goal scorer at 4/1 with Dimitar Berbatov 5/1 and the man gambled on for Sports Personality Of The Year, Ryan Giggs 8/1 to open the scoring and enhance his credentials for that prize even further.

To their credit, Villa are one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment. They haven't lost in five and have scored 14 in those matches although they have kept just one clean sheet in seven so will do well to keep out a rampant United attack.

James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor have been doing their bit to catch Capello's eye with regular goals and the pair are 14/1 and 8/1 respectively to score first, while John Carew is a threat at 9/1, set piece taker Ashley Young 14/1 but Richard Dunne who has scored a few this season could be the man at 33/1 for first goal or 12/1 anytime as set pieces in to the box is one area that United looked vulnerable against Wolfsburg, the German side just couldn't convert their hatful of chances.

Since their defeat to Chelsea, the Red Devils have scored 11 in three games and conceded just one goal which was a penalty but Villa have scored in 14 straight Premier League matches so goals look like they will be on the menu so get one of 2-1 United at 6/1, 3-1 at 10/1 and 3-2 at 25/1 on your side. Villa are 16/1 to pull off a 2-1 shock while a 1-1 draw is 6/1.

Expect goals early too as Villa have scored 24% of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of games and a match goal then is 2/1 or a Villa goal is 13/2. The away side could well go ahead as United often take time to warm to the task before coming good, (Wolfsburg in midweek an example, while West Ham held their own for a good deal of the game) so United to come from behind and win at 13/2 looks a fair bet as does the Villa/United double result at 25/1.

Expect a bold show from a tough Villa side but some hoodoo's just don't look like ever being broken and Villa who have never won at Old Trafford in the Premier League probably won't get any joy this time and it looks like it will be back to the changing room to throw on some Take That for Villa where they can reminisce about a time when they could beat the unstoppable Red Devils.

Aston Villa/Man United - 25/1

Wayne Rooney to score first - 4/1


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