Friday night lights. TGI Fridays. Friday the thirt… er, fourteenth. It’s safe to say that the prospect of watching a Premier League match over your post-work drinks whilst the entire weekend stretches out in front of you has got more than a few people a little excited.
And why not? Top-flight Friday night football might not be a regular thing in this country just yet, but this is a pretty good game with which to whet your appetite for that early hours kebab.
Aston Villa – featuring five debutants – defied the odds to win at Bournemouth on the opening day through a centre-forward’s dream of a header from Rudy Gestede, whilst Manchester United continued last season’s theme of functionality over flair in grinding out a home win over Tottenham. Now it’s onto Villa Park, where the twin smells of expectation and 2-for-1s will hang in the air.
Also hanging in the air could be the giant Gestede if he’s selected from the start by Tim Sherwood, who must be tempted to try and exploit a perceived weakness at centre-back for United given that Daley Blind is likely to play there again in the continued absence of a shiny new Sergio Ramos.
If Gestede does play then the need for Villa’s new midfielders to get as close to him as possible will doubtless be stressed enthusiastically by Sherwood, with the combination of a pumped up manager and energised fans making the home debuts of the pair of exciting Jordans, Veretout and Ayew, potentially ones to remember.
Looking to make this an experience to forget for the home fans, though, will be Louis van Gaal, and the Dutchman has United’s remarkable record at Villa Park with which to back up his claims for a positive result.
Avoid defeat here and it’ll be 20 years since United last lost a league game at Aston Villa – the infamous ‘you’ll win nothing with kids’ match – and after United’s win over Spurs, avoiding defeat here would represent a solid start.
Despite the victory and the impressive summer additions, Van Gaal’s bench looked surprisingly bare last weekend, and the Dutchman will be tempted to start with Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield as he bids to get hold of an area which is likely to dictate the game.
Further forward, Memphis Depay looked impressive in patches against Spurs and should thrive in the extra space doubtless afforded to him in an away game, and the quicksilver Dutchman will be a lively presence on an evening when there’ll be a sense of occasion at Villa Park, whose inhabitants will be desperate to see their team get on top of their opponents.
Starting with Gestede might be the best way to do just that, and it raises the possibility that the Villa or Draw Double Chance is more than a little overpriced at 2.35, with the outright Draw looking good at 3.85 and Both Teams To Score even better at 2.06.
Gestede any time excites here at 4.70, but perhaps the best Villa price is the 7.50 on Scott Sinclair to beat Sergio Romero at any point in the match. The winger had an impressive pre-season and has finally seemed to have found a home at Villa Park, where he impressed on loan last season.
United are still awaiting a goalscorer from their own team this season, but Wayne Rooney came closer than most against Spurs and has a joint-record 13 Premier League goals against Villa. He’s at 2.32 any time, with Juan Mata tempting at 3.80.
Aston Villa 1 Manchester United 1 – 8.00
Both teams to score – 2.06
Aston Villa or Draw Double Chance – 2.35
Scott Sinclair to score at any time - 7.50
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