Scholes returns for Villa test

Sir Alex Ferguson will recall influential midfielder Paul Scholes to his line-up as Manchester United seeks to restore a five point Premier League lead on Sunday. Manchester City’s thumping 6-1 win at Norwich City has not only cut United’s lead, but increased the Blues’ goal difference advantage, with just five games remaining. Indeed, after United’s humbling at Wigan Athletic in midweek, Ferguson will seek a response that not only secures three points against Villa at Old Trafford, but ensures the Reds take momentum into the remainder of the season.

Ferguson’s side plays twice – at home to Villa and then Everton – before City is in action again, offering the carrot of a potential eight point league lead. But as the midweek loss at the DW Stadium demonstrated, United can take no points for granted this season. And with the trip to Eastlands looming, Ferguson is well aware that domestic title number 20 is far from won.

However, if any player can restore calm in the wake of defeat at Wigan, then Scholes will do so. It comes to something when a club the size of United is reliant on a 37-year-old former retiree, but as defeat to Roberto Matinez’ outfit so ably demonstrated, Scholes must surely play each of United’s five remaining fixtures.

Indeed, Ferguson was the subject of some criticism for resting Scholes at Wigan, but the 70-year-old manager insists that his flaxen-haired midfielder will now be fresh for the rest of the season.

“Paul has shown his influence since he has come back,” said Ferguson.

“We did the right thing resting him on Wednesday. It may not have looked like that to the fans but, after playing on Sunday and then having another match three days later, we did the right thing. He will play on Sunday and he will be fresh.

“There are still five games to go. The twists and turns of the Premier League are fascinating. We experienced that last year. We had to play a vital game against Chelsea and won. Experience helped us that day. Hopefully it does again. Sunday’s game is the one to focus on.”

Manchester United versus Aston Villa, Premier League, Old Trafford, 14 April 2012, 4pmElsewhere, Ferguson is likely to restore Rafael da Silva to right-back after Phil Jones’ inconspicuous performance the DW. Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck could replace Javier Hernández as Wayne Rooney’s partner in attack for the Villans’ trip north.

However, the United manager will resist any temptation to make wholesale changes to the side that lost so meekly at Wigan. Scholes will partner Michael Carrick in central midfield, meaning that Ryan Giggs will drop to the bench.

Meanwhile, United goalkeeper David de Gea, who’s superb recent form has confounded many critics’ premature judgement of the Spaniard, says that the Reds must bounce back from midweek setback if they are to take the Premier League title.

“It was a disappointment on Wednesday but sometimes it can be a wake-up call just to remind us that anyone is capable of winning games in this league, against any opposition,” the stopper told ManUtd.com.

“We will be even more focused now going into these last five games, starting on Sunday, and carry on that battle for the title. I am really enjoying the title race. We know there is still a little way to go yet and there is still plenty of work to do. But we can’t wait for each game. I want Sunday to come round as quickly as possible. We want to keep putting in the performances we have been and we are determined to keep fighting to keep that advantage.”

Indeed, City’s fine result on Saturday ensures United will feel a little extra pressure to win at Old Trafford, especially with Villa in no great form. The Midlanders have won just once in the past six matches – and two in 13 – while Alex McLeish has been the subject of much home scrutiny for the dour style in which his side has played this season.

Yet Villa has lost only to Chelsea, Arsenal and City since mid-February, while the visitors have been beaten just four on the road this season. Only United has a better record on the road – it points to anything but a guaranteed three points for Ferguson’s side.

McLeish, who played under Ferguson at Aberdeen, welcomes back Carlos Cuellar, Charles N’Zogbia, Ciaran Clark and forward Nathan Delfouneso to his squad. However, Stephen Warnock faces a late test on an ankle problem, and Chris Herd has a head injury. Marc Albrighton, Darren Bent, and Fabian Delph are out.

“He was a great player, and he has had a good career as a manager,” said Ferguson of McLeish.

“He will do a good job at Villa given time, trust and confidence. We all need a pat on the back at times and Alex has done a remarkable job. I do have sympathy for Alex. I have known him since he was a little kid. When I brought him into the team at Aberdeen he was always a very receptive, intelligent young man.

“You only need a couple of injuries and it is a massive blow. And in Bent you are taking away a goalscorer who gets between 18 and 20 a season. That is a big loss.”

Sympathy or not, United can show none on the pitch on Sunday, despite Villa’s precariousness to the drop and Ferguson’s affection for his fellow Scot. With the Reds still to visit Eastlands this season, and City regaining a goal difference advantage, one slip could yet cost United the title.

Match details
Manchester United versus Aston Villa, Premier League, Old Trafford, 14 April 2012, 4pm.

Potential Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Amos, Jones, Fabio, Smalling, Nani, Cleverley, Pogba, Giggs, Hernández, Berbatov.

Villa (4-4-2): Given; Hutton, Collins, Cuellar, Warnock; Bannan, Baker, Ireland, N’Zogbia; Agbonlahor, Weimann. Subs from: Guzan, Herd, Lichaj, Johnson, Clark, Gardner, Carruthers, Heskey, Delfouneso.

Match Stats

  • United’s Premier League lead has been cut to just two points after United’s mixed Easter, with Ferguson’s side beating Queens Park Rangers, before losing at Wigan Athletic;
  • Rooney and Scholes each hit the target in the game against QPR, although controversy surrounded the Scouser’s penalty;
  • Rooney’s goal was his 22nd in the Premier League this season, while Scholes has scored three times the league since returning from retirement;
  • Rooney’s goals have come from 118 shots at goal with 67 per cent on target;
  • Meanwhile, evergreen Scholes has covered 50.28 miles so far this season, averaging 4.19 miles in each of his 12 appearances;
  • Scholes has the best minutes per pass completed in the opponent’s half rate of any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, averaging a pass every one minute 47 seconds;
  • Villa arrive to Old Trafford on the back of successive 1-1 draws in the Premier League;
  • Chris Herd scored against Liverpool to give Villa the lead and Andreas Weimann did the same against Stoke City before the Villans opponents equalised in the last 20 minutes in both games;
  • Midfielder Herd has made 14 appearances this season, winning 73 per cent of tackles attempted and making 54 interceptions;
  • Villa have some of the most impressive defensive stats in the league, with players consistently among the top ranked for each defensive discipline – Stephen Warnock is ranked second in the Index for tackles won, having won 79 tackles so far this season, while James Collins is the top ranked player for clearances having made 84 so far this season;
  • Collins has also made more interceptions than any other player this season with 206, and the second highest number of blocks with 33.

Form
United: LWWWWL
Villa: DWLLDD

Officials
Referee: Mark Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)
Assistants: D Bond, R Ganfield
Fourth Official: L Probert

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Comments

  1. Herbie Simms says

    Still angry after that Wigan game. We did not even show up for that game! Do you know that if that was a cricket match, they would have been investigating the game for match fixing! Something was not right in that game. SAF claims there are going to be more twist and turns. Are we going to play so badly and lose at home against struggling Aston Villa? I’m not even going to watch the game because I’m beginning to smell a rat!

  2. han says

    we have an excellent record against villa
    but we had an even better one against wigan…
    SAF needs to stop tinkering and definitely cannot start with hernandez today
    villa are shite but have only lost 4 away so it will not e a case of us trouncing them unless all of our players decide to pull their finger out of the collective arse and restore the 5 point cushion

  3. DeadRevel says

    Anyone heard about Fabio? Apparently he’s going out on loan next season….

    I’m really starting to question Ferguson now. Evra has been awful this season and he hasn’t been a top player for 2/3 years now. Fabio is both more talented and less error-prone.

    What the fuck is happening?

    What happens if Evra is injured next season? Ezekiel fucking Fryers? Or someone played out of position yet again?

  4. Just1n says

    Tough game. A boring 1-0 will do. SAF has proven this season that as long as we scrape a boring uninspiring win then he is happy.

  5. sheesh says

    We play poorly every time I predict a comfortable win so, for a change, I’m predicting a poor performance today, when we really should be hammering Villa because they are such a dreadful team.

    Fabio going out on loan next season suggests to me that we will be signing Evra’s replacement in the summer. I hope so, anyway.

  6. says

    Villa really have been appalling at times this season. I have a feeling they’ll come today trying to avoid a hiding at OT today. I think they’ll “park the bus” and won’t be looking to attack, except on the counter. I have a horrible fear it’ll be a boring boring draw.

  7. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    Anyone heard about Fabio? Apparently he’s going out on loan next season….

    I’m really starting to question Ferguson now. Evra has been awful this season and he hasn’t been a top player for 2/3 years now. Fabio is both more talented and less error-prone.

    What the fuck is happening?

    What happens if Evra is injured next season? Ezekiel fucking Fryers? Or someone played out of position yet again?

    Statistics say that Evra’s had a good season… at least going forward… but admittedly, his defensive duties have been lacking… but then again, he was never a great defender.

    • DeadRevel says

      Are they online? I’d like to see them…

      Point still stands though – what’s Fabio done wrong defensively, especially compared to Evra?

      Evra isn’t a great defender, but before he at least used to run back and make an effort, but everything seems to have gone this season. No positional awareness whatsoever and gives free kicks around the penalty area too much.

      If we buy a left back this summer… what is going on.

      All I read is that we’re linked to 10 full backs and 10 fucking wingers.

      It’s the twilight zone at Old Trafford. Someone opened up a portal to Narnia.

      Berba is back in the squad…. the mystery fucking deepens.

  8. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Ben Hulston said:
    Villa really have been appalling at times this season. I have a feeling they’ll come today trying to avoid a hiding at OT today. I think they’ll “park the bus” and won’t be looking to attack, except on the counter. I have a horrible fear it’ll be a boring boring draw.

    Let them park the bus… as long as Scholes plays, we’ll open them up…

  9. Sidsidney says

    De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Young, Rooney, Welbeck
    Subs: Amos, Jones, Cleverley, Giggs, Nani, Berbatov, Hernandez
    No Giggs, no Jones bodging at right back, but still no Nani in the 11…

  10. han says

    fucking hells bells
    berba on the bench
    about fucking time too
    not that he will ever play again for us but still…

  11. han says

    that team is the one which SAF should have played on wednesday
    job would have been done and we wouldn’t be pissing around worried to pieces

  12. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    its a cloudyish day in manc today probably just about sunny enough to warrant berbashite playing

  13. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Is this the game where United are experimenting by putting the Villa fans in the north stand upper.

  14. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    its a cloudyish day in manc today probably just about sunny enough to warrant berbashite playing

    and if he plays and gets the winner, i take it you’ll retract the garbage you have been spouting about him?

  15. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    obviously not, ive stated many times these home games against riff raff are the only ones he turns up in

  16. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    obviously not, ive stated many times these home games against riff raff are the only ones he turns up in

    aye obviously you’d rather have sitting in the stands when we needed him past 4 games to score against the riff raff nto improve our goal difference

  17. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    and yet i said he should play v qpr, this obssession is humiliating for you

    what is pathetic is how you can slag him off the way you do

  18. han says

    madredmonkey said:
    Is this the game where United are experimenting by putting the Villa fans in the north stand upper.

    they should leave them in the car park

  19. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    iTts no different to any stick any players get on here except youre obssessed with this one to the point of humiliating yourself frequently

  20. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    iTts no different to any stick any players get on here except youre obssessed with this one to the point of humiliating yourself frequently

    my obsession if i have one, is second only to yours

  21. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    well berbatovs unique in our squad, instead of being a shite player like most of em hes not, hes shite as a man, which is worse

  22. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    Remains to be seen, but given our poor performance against Wigan in midweek, coupled with City’s sudden second-wind, I’d expect a strong reaction today.

  23. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    well berbatovs unique in our squad, instead of being a shite player like most of em hes not, hes shite as a man, which is worse

    like you know him on a personal level hmmmmmm

  24. han says

    Commenter said:
    Are they online? I’d like to see them…

    Point still stands though – what’s Fabio done wrong defensively, especially compared to Evra?

    Evra isn’t a great defender, but before he at least used to run back and make an effort, but everything seems to have gone this season. No positional awareness whatsoever and gives free kicks around the penalty area too much.

    If we buy a left back this summer… what is going on.

    All I read is that we’re linked to 10 full backs and 10 fucking wingers.

    It’s the twilight zone at Old Trafford. Someone opened up a portal to Narnia.

    Berba is back in the squad…. the mystery fucking deepens.

    berba is back because SAF knows he has screwed up

  25. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    embarrassing point from han yet again, you can obviously tell a players personality on the pitch, and berbashite is a hider, big game bottler and bollockless faffer

  26. han says

    if he was a winston bogarde or bosnich, i’d say you had half a point but as per usual, u spout shite about a brilliant individual

    • DeadRevel says

      han

      just ignore him.

      Anyone with sense could see Berba would have played better and scored more goals than Hernandez this season and that we’ve needed him recently.

      Like you said, the fact he’s back in the squad shows Ferguson has got ‘desperate’ so to speak.

      A bit like Tevez, except Berbatov is a true professional, gentleman and scholar.

  27. han says

    much as i love tony v, i wish united would vary the attack instead of passing the ball out to him at every opportunity

  28. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    why has taggart not told him to stop cheating, is this what utd have come to in order to win

  29. definitely not tommyTommy says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    why has taggart not told him to stop cheating, is this what utd have come to in order to win

    apparently yeh

  30. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    another dive from this absolute cunt

    Yep… and what’s worse is, a lot of United fans are defending it.

  31. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    why has taggart not told him to stop cheating, is this what utd have come to in order to win

    i guess SAF has left that to you seeing as though you seem to have direct contact with the club, its players, staff and mice

  32. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Yep… and what’s worse is, a lot of United fans are defending it.

    only one cock defending it on here so far…

  33. han says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    We need another before half time…

    we definitely do if scholes is crocked and not going to make it to h/t

  34. Sidsidney says

    This is probably Scholes’ best game since he came back

    On top of everything else he’s made 2 clean tackles

  35. Sidsidney says

    Anybody notice that after Young’s penalty we got fuck all decisions
    Carrick got a bullshit yellow
    Young goes down theatricaly, aye, but there is contact

  36. han says

    Just1n said:
    braai? or you referring to the welsh cunt.

    aye the former but obviously my spelling is dire
    as for that leek eating dragon fucker…

  37. DeadRevel says

    Ashley Young is a diver, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a clear penalty. Defender trod on his boot BEFORE he left his other leg hanging…

    In that situation a penalty and a yellow card for Young would be fitting.

    Great performance so far as long as we keep it up in second half.

  38. han says

    fucking hell
    heskey causing immediate problems
    take your heads outta your arses united
    they are there for the taking and there is no urgency at all

  39. Just1n says

    Commenter said:
    Ashley Young is a diver, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a clear penalty. Defender trod on his boot BEFORE he left his other leg hanging…

    In that situation a penalty and a yellow card for Young would be fitting.

    Great performance so far as long as we keep it up in second half.

    you deluded mate. Its okay to admit Young is a diver.

  40. han says

    nice win
    shame every cunt and his uncle will be talking about the pen
    played some great stuff without really having to break sweat
    villa could have been gang raped but united really seemed to want to stay in 2nd gear
    still recovering from berbs coming on

  41. Sidsidney says

    Good win, decent performance.

    An in form Nani will get us over the line.

    How shit is Rooney though. He can’t make simple passes and he is ruining our forward play.

  42. han says

    rooney really has lost something these past few games for sure
    lack of competition for his place definitely doesnt help him

  43. DeadRevel says

    Lots of bitter cunts whinging about the penalty. It was a clear pen – the fact Young was looking for it is irrelevant – the defender stamped on his foot BEFORE he took the dive.

    Young should still be booked though for being a pussy.

    We played well today, encouraging performance. If Rooney had been playing well it would have been 6 or 7.

    Oh and thank fuck Nani’s back, I forgot he was a good player.

  44. sheesh says

    Why does Young have to dive? I swear to God, he’s going to develop a reputation and, one of these days, he will cost us when he genuinely is fouled and we don’t get the decision in our favour.
    He’s a silly little prick.
    It’s the ref I feel sorry for. He was put in an awkward position.
    Edit – Another thing that got me thinking. The minute’s silence earlier was specifically for the poor Italian player who had a heart attack and died but there was no mention of the Hillsborough disaster. Come to think of it, I can’t remember ever attending a game where there has been a minute’s silence for Hillsborough. Not sure if it’s a tit for tat thing as maybe the Scousers don’t commemorate Munich. Just seemed a bit odd.

  45. Dinkinflicker says

    Rooney has been pants for the last 3 or 4 weeks and I have a theory why, though it’s probably bollocks.

    Something about the body language today struck me – after the pen he made a point of waving and blowing a kiss to someone in the crowd. After his second he looked a bit flat and the way the players congratulated him had the feel of them trying to pick up someone who was down.

    That bint who he rattled off has been in the press again lately. I wonder if it’s dragged up some shit at home and whether he’s been getting some flack from the Mrs. Personal strife has always seemed to be the biggest factor in his form when it’s dipped.

    As I say, probably bollocks, but for a man who usually thrives on the pressure of big games and the run in, he doesn’t look right.

  46. sheesh says

    Commenter said:
    Lots of bitter cunts whinging about the penalty. It was a clear pen – the fact Young was looking for it is irrelevant – the defender stamped on his foot BEFORE he took the dive.

    I’m not being bitter. I just don’t like idiots like Young embarrassing our club with their antics. Oh and here’s a replay:
    http://www.101greatgoals.com/gvideos/ashley-youngs-dirty-dive-wayne-rooney-puts-manchester-united-1-0-up-v-aston-villa/
    The defender leaves his leg hanging out. Young’s foot moves towards the defender’s foot, not the other way round. Young kicks the other guy’s foot which is hanging in the air (8 seconds in).
    To me, Young is clearly looking for the contact.
    Either way, Young should not be behaving like this. Fergie himself has admitted that Young went down too easily and he needs to cut that shit out of his game.

  47. han says

    from the guardian

    “Ferguson also offered rare criticism of Rooney. “He was careless. Wayne has to play on the edge of a game, when it is really close and competitive. When the game gets to that casual bit, he is worse than the rest of them. He gets really casual about it. It is better when he is on the edge, then he is a marvellous player.”

  48. Sidsidney says

    Spot on from Fergie. That’s the harsh truth; during quiet periods of the game he is too casual, too sloppy, can’t make simple passes and often ruins our forward play.
    He’s been subbed twice now, and I dont buy that it’s because he needs a rest – not when we’re in just the one tournament and the games are nicely spaced out.
    It’s weird that Fergie has criticised him publicly. He must be looking for a reaction.

  49. sheesh says

    I thought he only looked annoyed when he got subbed off. He scored a couple of goals but didn’t play well which is better than not scoring and not doing anything like Hernandez for much of this season. Welbeck and carrick had good games but scholes was my man of the match. Scary how desperately we need him.

  50. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    It does sound desperate to need Scholes, but to be fair, he’s been absolute class… it doesn’t seem to matter about his age, if he’s not asked to bomb around the pitch.

    Nowt wrong with his skills, or his brain… he could easily play another year… Giggs however has not had a great year.

  51. Dinkinflicker says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    It does sound desperate to need Scholes, but to be fair, he’s been absolute class… it doesn’t seem to matter about his age, if he’s not asked to bomb around the pitch.

    Nowt wrong with his skills, or his brain… he could easily play another year… Giggs however has not had a great year.

    Scholesy got clattered after about 25 minutes. After that, he wasn’t moving around the pitch properly. And he was still the best player out there by a country mile. Fucking unbelievable. He can’t do it forever though and the need for a replacement is blindingly obvious when you consider how his absence impacts our performance.

  52. DeadRevel says

    Scholes is class. Watching him play yesterday was a privilege yet again.

    Apparently we might be buying Gaitan… this rumour seems to have legs. (Unlike Scholes after 80 minutes).

    Rooney was dire yesterday, and the fact he scored a penalty and a fluffed deflected tap in doesn’t change anything.

    Welbeck, Nani, Rafael, Rio, Scholes, Carrick… even Evra all impressive.

    Much needed tonic after Wigan. Beat Everton in the same way and the title is ours.

  53. Charmingman93 says

    Johnny Evans still looking for that illusive 2nd goal! Don’t worry man, your day will come! people seem to forget his assist for (I think, please correct me if I’m wrong) For Wellbeck was a midfielder’s pass! I think he deserves a mention for that. And thanks to Berbatov for coming on and playing better than Rooney, even though he couldn’t do much, he was trying his best.

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