Manchester United 0-1 ASTON VILLA
Villa recorded their first win over the Champions after a massive 26-year wait. Ashley Young’s cross was met by the head of Gabriel Agbonlahor for the only goal of the game. Villa attacked with purpose in the first half and defended brilliantly in the second to not only claim all three points, but deservedly so. Villa kept their second consecutive clean sheet and moved into the top four of the Premier League.
SUNDERLAND 1-1 Portsmouth
Darren Bent fired home his 10th goal of the season to give Sunderland the lead midway through the first half. The points seemed in the bag but for Younnes Kaboul’s late, late equalizer. A corner in the third minute of stoppage time was Sunderland’s undoing as Avram Grant’s strugglers claimed a point.
But for Stephen Warnock’s neck injury, O’Neill should name an unchanged side that beat the Champions. Luke Young should be shifted to left back, Carlos Cuellar to right back and James Collins should make his starting return to partner Richard Dunne at the back.
Defence: L. Young, Dunne, Collins, Cuellar
Midfield: A. Young, Petrov, Milner, Downing
Up Front: Agbonlahor, Heskey
Kenwyne Jones should recover from a knock to shoulder as well as the returns of Phil Bardsley & Kieran Richardson after both serving one match bans against Portsmouth.
Defence: Nosworthy, Turner, Da Silva, McCartney
Midfield: Campbell, Henderson, Cana, Reid
Up Front: Bent, Jones
Gabriel Agbonlahor: Fresh from scoring the winner against the Champions, Gabby should be in a buoyed mood and ready to take on the Sunderland defence. Nine goals already this term and with each goal coming in a different game, Gabby really is coming on leaps and bounds this year.
Darren Bent: Sunderland’s own England hopeful notched his 10th goal of the campaign against Portsmouth and could use this encounter as a duel to show Capello, just which fringe England striker should be on the way to the World cup.
Villa, on the back of a 5 game unbeaten run and fresh from the scalp of United, are the only team in the league not to have lost to a top half opposition. They have conceded the second fewest goals behind only Chelsea and have scored in every game this season barring the woeful opening day defeat to Wigan.
Sunderland on the other hand, have won only one of their last 7 games but are unbeaten at home since Chelsea won their back in August. 7 of Darren Bent’s 10 league goals have come at home this season in only 8 home games.
All that should count for little though as Villa aim to consolidate their win against United with a win at Sunderland.
I can’t help but see anything other than a Villa win and having yet to predict a clean sheet, now may well be the time for me to do so after the sterling job the defence did on Saturday.
Prediction… Sunderland 0-2 Aston Villa