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Three at the back the key to beat Manchester United?

Depth for Aston Villa may be short at depth when it comes to central defenders, but that may be the area that needs the most focus in this weekend's clash against Manchester United.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata. Five perfectly good reasons that Aston Villa should employ five defenders for Saturday's match at Villa Park. Manager Paul Lambert has admitted that his team may be short staffed, and we know that centre back has been a problem this year, but with the return of Ron Vlaar, Lambert may be able to switch his system to one with three (five) at the back.

His side won't face all of those players, but it shows the disparity in talent levels between the club. This fixture has been incredibly one-sided, and there is only a slim chance that the Villans get anything from this match, but if the defence steps up there is always a chance.

Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore have been incredible after being thrown into the lineup due to injury reasons. However, they haven't faced striker tandems like Falcao and RvP. United are in great form, winning six in a row. Even if they don't lead the league in the style points department, they have quietly crept into third. Lacking the distraction and burden of European football has been a blessing for Louis van Gaal's side.

Villa will have a different right back in the lineup, after Alan Hutton picked up a suspension for accumulating too many yellow cards. Personally, I would go with Leandro Bacuna over Matt Lowton because of his delivery on set pieces, but due to the lack of midfielders available for selection, Lowton should probably start there so Bacuna can play further up the pitch.

That is where the real task may lie, in dealing with the meaty part of the 3-4-1-2 formation that United favour lately. Villa will be without Ashley Westwood and Tom Cleverley. Fabian Delph should be back though, and he and Carlos Sánchez will have a lot of work to do keeping an eye Rooney as well as Mata. Delph is probably the key man, as he provides such a spark for the side when he is fully fit. He wasn't last week.

Ultimately, it could come down to Villa's attackers. Surely there will be a couple of chances, so Christian Benteke and co. will need to make the most of them, as that could be the difference between 0-2 and 2-2. Will we see Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann, or Charles N'Zogbia? Hopefully not. Hopefully Jack Grealish and Callum Robinson get chances, because there really isn't a whole lot to lose.

I would go 5-3-1-1 with Guzan; Lowton, Okore, Vlaar, Clark, Cissokho; Sánchez, Delph, Bacuna; Grealish; Benteke.

What would you choose to do? Let us know in the comments!

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