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Starting XI: Aston Villa vs. Manchester United

The Reds head to the West Midlands to kick off a very busy week

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Lindsey Parnaby - Pool/Getty Images

Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:

(1) This trip to Villa Park kicks off a brutal stretch for Manchester United with three matches in five days. With Liverpool officially rescheduled for next Thursday, the Leicester game has been moved up one day to Tuesday. That leaves the Reds with just one day of rest in between each of these matches, likely foreshadowing lots and lots of rotation.

(2) Manchester United advanced to the Europa League final with an 8-5 win on aggregate over AS Roma. The Reds lost 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, but went through thanks to their blowout win in the first leg.

(3) With the Europa League tie seemingly well in hand, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer removed both starting fullbacks — Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw — at halftime to give them a little extra rest. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but AS Roma sprang to life in the second half and scored twice in quick succession. Only the quick reflexes of David De Gea saved Manchester United from a very nervy ending.

(4) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on his side’s injury situation after the win in Rome:

I hope [everyone is healthy]. We’re going to need everyone anyway in these four games and we’ve just got to see how they are on Sunday morning. We play at two o’clock on Sunday, so that’s a short turnaround but we’ll have to be ready and that’s just how it is.

(5) Jack Grealish has missed the last eleven matches with a shin injury, which has understandably derailed Aston Villa’s form. They’ve won just three times over the past three months and fallen out of the race for European qualification. Grealish is nearing a return, but Manchester United’s visit on Sunday will come a few days too soon for the 25-year-old.

(6) On Saturday, Aston Villa won at Goodison Park for the first time since 2008. Ollie Watkins opened the scoring with his fifteenth goal of the season, before Dominic Calvert-Lewin quickly drew Everton level. Then, ten minutes from time, Anwar El Ghazi scored the winner to move Villa back into the top half of the table.

(7) After Aston Villa’s win over Everton, head coach Dean Smith dispelled any notion that his side lacks motivation down the stretch:

People have been talking about “nothing to play for” or “on the beach” and I said to the players here, that’s a question against our professionalism and we want to finish as high as we can. I feel we’ve been building to this win and the performance here.

(8) Newsflash: Anwar El Ghazi is really good.

(9) Aston Villa have needed strong performances from Ollie Watkins, Anwar El Ghazi, and Ross Barkley because of a rash of injuries. Other than Jack Grealish — who is a huge loss all by himself — both Trezeguet and Morgan Sanson are out with knee injuries.

(10) The Villans boast one of the best defenses in the Premier League with just 38 goals allowed so far. That’s fewer than Leicester City, West Ham, and Everton, who all sit above Aston Villa in the table. Dean Smith’s back four of Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, and Matty Cash has been consistently strong all season long.

(11) Interestingly enough, Manchester United and Aston Villa have the same number of players in WhoScored’s Premier League team of the season: