Manchester United vs. Aston Villa, Match Preview

I find this picture to be really cute. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Wigan beating Manchester United on Wednesday was amusing, and I don't think many that aren't of the United-supporting persuasion would disagree too vehemently. It's always funny when a top side loses, and it's especially funny when it's United; Alex Ferguson just has such an expressive Angry Face, and his complexion makes it look like he quite literally may be ready to explode. And for that loss-which was just their fourth of the season and first since January, by the way-to come against Wigan makes the whole thing even funnier. But in a couple of ways, it was less than ideal from a Villa-centric perspective. Most readily apparent is that it makes Villa's Premier League standing just that little bit more precarious. There's also the belief (certainly not held by everyone, but by a fair number of people) that losing in such an embarrassing fashion will have United re-focused and ready to lay a severe walloping down upon Villa's head.

Frankly, I'm not sure the loss to Wigan was really necessary to set the stage for a lopsided result in favor of the home side. Though it's true that this is not the most impressive Manchester United side we've ever seen (it's quite frankly astonishing to me that they're likely going to win the league) they're still a damned site better than Villa. And their most exploitable weakness-a tremendously underwhelming central midfield-is one that Aston Villa are quite possibly the most unlikely to exploit in the league. With Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace the exception, every team that's beaten United this season in all competitions has done so in large part by completely dominating the middle of the park. Doesn't seem like that's in the cards for tomorrow, frankly.

There's a reason they play the games and all that, and with a lineup so heavy on youth it's entirely possible that one of the kiddos has something of a coming out party tomorrow. Unless you charge $2.99/minute to give stock tips and telling people how and when they're going to die over the phone (and you should be ashamed of wasting your gift in that fashion!) you can't really know what will happen until it does, etc. etc. etc. But on the face of things, this looks to be an excellent candidate for being the first real and true thrashing Villa have had to endure all season. I've been dreading this game for months. Here's hoping I'm a terrible psychic.

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