As horrible as last week's loss to Fulham was, it's worth noting that Aston Villa could plausibly find themselves as high as 10th once the weekend is out, and it would take a pretty through drubbing to fall any lower than their current 11th place. Celebrating mid-table stability isn't exactly something I'm hoping to do for the rest of my life, but given the past few seasons it's a pretty nice feeling. Manchester United enter the game winless since November 10th and losers of two straight, and the pack at the top of the table moves further and further away each week.
This isn't a great United side, and relative to the club's typical standards it's not even an average United side. They have some real problems that need to be addressed before they can really be considered elite. With that being said, they have a whole lot more talent than Aston Villa. Of course, given the season's trajectory to this point, that might actually be a reason for optimism.
Aston Villa Starting XI
Brad Guzan; Nathan Baker, Ciaran Clark, Antonio Luna, Matthew Lowton; Karim El Ahmadi, Ashley Westwood, Yacouba Sylla; Gabby Agbonlahor, Marc Albrighton, Christian Benteke
Aston Villa Bench
Jed Steer, Gary Gardner, Aleksandar Tonev, Leandro Bacuna, Andi Weimann, Jordan Bowery, Libor Kozak
Manchester United Starting XI
David De Gea; Rafael, Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans; Ryan Giggs, Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj; Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck
Manchester United Bench
Anders Lindegaard, Rio Ferdinand, Fabio, Alexander Büttner, Ashley Young, Darren Fletcher, Wilifried Zaha