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Manchester United vs. Aston Villa: Home side ‘expected to prevail’

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Aston Villa head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United for the first time since April 2016.

Villa lost 1-0 in that meeting – and were subsequently relegated from the Premier League for the first time a month later – and the bookmakers expect a similar result in Sunday’s clash, which kicks off at 16:30 GMT.

The hosts are 1/2 to get the victory; the draw is 7/2; and a surprise Villa win is 5/1.

While United are expected to win, the odds aren’t as one-sided as they may have been in the past in this fixture.

The Red Devils’ decline in recent years was showcased by the embarrassment of Thursday night, when they lost 2-1 to Kazakhstan outfit FC Astana in the Europa League group stage.

Admittedly United did deploy a weakened side in what was essentially a dead rubber for both sides, but the loss has done little to remove any of the mounting pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Villa, on the other hand, enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United on Monday night in their last Premier League fixture.

Jack Grealish caught the eye in particular, drifting inside from the left-wing to continually cause Newcastle’s deep-lying defence problems.

It can’t be too long before the 24-year-old’s form is rewarded by England manager Gareth Southgate with a maiden senior international call-up.

United will certainly need to keep a close eye on Grealish in particular if they are to get the victory, which could take them as high as fifth place should results elsewhere go their way on Sunday.

A win for Villa, meanwhile, would take them level on points with their opponents.

Plenty of motivation for both sides, then, in what should be a closely contested affair.

There have at least been encouraging signs in an attacking sense of late for Solskjaer’s side, scoring six goals in their last two league games.

However, clean sheets are proving hard to come by and Villa have more than enough firepower to punish them.

2/1 on a United win with both teams to score certainly appeals for these reasons, then.

I'm a freelance sports journalist who has worked for Goal & Bleacher Report amongst others. Get in touch, you're more than welcome to do so via Twitter.  

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