Aston Villa and Manchester United were both 1-0 winners on the opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League season, but the hosts must overturn the weight of history in this fixture at Villa Park if they are to secure another three points.

Premier League reports that both teams have been ever-present during the BPL's 23 seasons and this is a fixture completely dominated by United. A 1-1 draw at Villa Park last season represents the Birmingham club's only point against the Red Devils in their past nine meetings.
Between 2003 and 2008, United beat Villa on 11 consecutive occasions. Martin O'Neill led the Villans to their first league win at Old Trafford for 26 years in December 2009, but Villa's last home success over United in the Barclays Premier League came 20 years ago, with one other triumph in the inaugurual season, in 1992.

After Blackburn Rovers pipped them to the 1994/95 league title, Manchester United emerged on the opening day at Aston Villa having sold the experienced trio of Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis. Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs, Steve Bruce and, through suspension, Eric Cantona were also unavailable for the match, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson to call upon a selection of graduates from the United youth system. Villa ran riot during the first half as goals from Ian Taylor and Mark Draper as well as a Dwight Yorke penalty gave them a 3-0 lead after 36 minutes.
United were much improved after the interval but had only David Beckham's long-range strike eight minutes from time to show for their efforts.
"You can't win anything with kids," Alan Hansen observed when picking over the bones of United's defeat on BBC's Match of the Day highlights programme later that evening.
Infused with an exceptional generation of young talent, Ferguson's 1995/96 team went on to win the league and FA Cup double. Victory prompted an excellent season for Villa as well, finishing fourth under Brian Little, winning the League Cup and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.

Two years on from calling time on his decorated Manchester United career, Peter Schmeichel returned to English football with Aston Villa and made 29 Barclays Premier League appearances in the 2001/02 season. Dwight Yorke was a prolific marksman for both clubs and was a key member of United's 1999 treble-winning side alongside Schmeichel and Ronny Johnsen, the Norway defender who would later play for Villa between 2002 and 2004.

Dion Dublin scored 48 league goals for Aston Villa having been a squad player when United hoisted the first two BPL titles. Ashley Young rose to prominence and England recognition during four-and-a-half years at Villa Park, before moving to Old Trafford in June 2011. Tom Cleverley enjoyed a productive loan spell at Villa Park last season but joined Everton in July when his contract at Old Trafford expired. Others to play for both: Mark Bosnich, Eric Djemba-Djemba.
Player focus: Micah Richards

A familiar foe to United at youth and first-team levels, having spent 14 years at Manchester City, Micah Richards is relishing the prospect of a home debut against Louis van Gaal's team. "Playing at City for so long, games against United were the big ones for me," he told "Now I'm delighted to be at Villa but my affinity to this fixture is still strong. They'll always be special games to me, coming up against United."
Richards has enjoyed his fair share of success against United in the past, most notably when Sky Sports named him man of the match for an all-action display as City romped to a 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October 2011. Having helped Villa keep a clean sheet away to AFC Bournemouth on the opening Richards will be keen to stop Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay.

What is at stake?

As two of the seven winners in Matchweek 1, both Villa and United will want to put together a decisive run of early-season form. A draw for Chelsea at home to Swansea City and Arsenal's defeat by West Ham United allowed Van Gaal's men to establish an early advantage over two potential title rivals.
Moving on to six points from two matches, as Manchester City and Chelsea prepare to take points off one another on Sunday, would represent a handsome return.

Posted by Azania Thursday, August 13, 2015 9:13:00 AM


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