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Aston Villa v Manchester United preview

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Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Saturday 13 November 2010 | 12.45 GMT


Gerard Houllier has urged his Aston Villa youngsters not too show Manchester United too much respect as he looks to continue his fine record against Sir Alex Ferguson.

Villa will be aiming to win a home Barclays Premier League clash against the Red Devils for the first time since the opening day of the 1995-96 campaign.

They are decimated by injuries to senior players with midfielder Stephen Ireland the latest doubt after missing training today with a sickness bug.

But Houllier can draw on the knowledge that he has triumphed five times in Liverpool-United clashes during his time at Anfield.

And he is hoping the likes of Nathan Delfouneso, Barry Bannan, Mark Albrighton and Ciaran Clark will relish rather than be fazed by the challenge of taking on United.

Houllier said: "Sir Alex said to me 'you are more successful against Manchester United than even Bob Paisley.' But they've won more titles!

"Villa have not won against United (at home) for a long time. I would say that at some stage it has to stop.

"It already stopped in a way last year because Villa won at Old Trafford for the first time in 25 encounters or something like that.

"We hope in front of our fans, we give the best of ourselves and get a result.

"We've got a good group of players and a good team - whatever the opposition.

"I regret some of the players are not available because in that sort of game you need more experience.

"But I can quite happy to see some young players going through and it would be for them a good experience and a good opportunity for the future.''

Houllier added: "We must make sure we don't give them too much respect.

"They are so good, we must not watch them play.

"One of the problems that could happen is it takes us 20 minutes to get into the game.''

Houllier is full of admiration for Ferguson and his achievements during the past two decades at Old Trafford.

He said: "He's been a friend for a long time, even before I came to England, and after.

"We met at coaches get-togethers organised by Andy Roxburgh at UEFA, sometimes on holiday. We've been friends and whatever happens we will remain friends.''

Darren Fletcher has told his Manchester United team-mates it is time to end the succession of draws that has halted their progress this term.

Although much has been made of the 25-match unbeaten run that stretches back to last season's title-losing reverse against Chelsea, United have actually failed to win half their games in the Premier League this term.

Their sixth draw of the campaign came in Wednesday's drab Manchester derby.

Taken in isolation, the result was not too bad, particularly as Sir Alex Ferguson's side dominated for long periods.

However, in a season when points were tossed away so meekly at Fulham and Everton, it was a costly result that allowed Premier League leaders Chelsea to re-establish a four-point cushion.

Fletcher accepts United need to make up for lost ground, and views the trip to Aston Villa as the perfect place to start.

"People are talking about us not losing but we have drawn too many, especially away from home,'' said the Scotland skipper.

"We have to start winning our away games if we want to push up this league.

"You can't afford to draw too many games, otherwise you will get left behind.

"Overall, you would be better winning two games out of three and losing the other one rather than winning one and drawing two.

"That is why we were disappointed on Wednesday.

"We could have got the win and felt we produced a performance good enough to get us one.''

There are still a couple of players affected by the flu virus that has swept round United's Carrington training complex over the past fortnight but disruption should be nothing like that Ferguson encountered when he was trying to select a side to face Wolves a week ago.

Paul Scholes is suspended and young Brazilian defender Rafael has been ruled out with a dead leg.

There is some good news of Patrice Evra, who returned to training after injuring his ankle against Manchester City and is expected to be fit.

Fletcher claims he is feeling good too.

Gone are the days when the Scot was regarded as a bit-part player at Old Trafford.

Now the 26-year-old is a senior figure, widely acknowledged as one of the most effective midfielders in the top flight.

"I am coping fine and loving every minute,'' said Fletcher.

"I feel good and my energy levels are good. Because my pre-season was uninterrupted, my fitness is high, so I have not had a problem at all.''

From: ESPN



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