Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could hand Juan Mata a rare Manchester United start for when Aston Villa pay Old Trafford a visit in the Premier League on Friday night.

Despite a less than ideal start to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United will have the opportunity to level on points at the top with Liverpool with a win over Aston Villa on Friday night. However, the manager will have to be wary of the high-flying Aston Villa side that has conceded just thrice in 7 away league games so far.

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First things first, Solskjaer will look to tidy things up at the back. David de Gea will start in goal after keeping a clean sheet against Wolves. The only real change from the usual faces could Victor Lindelof, who missed out against Wolves and could be given an extended rest to heal his long-term back injury.

Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire will partner up once again and look to make it two clean sheets in a row at Old Trafford for United. Luke Shaw should be preferred at left-back, despite Alex Telles coming on at half-time against Wolves during the midweek. The Brazilian is fit, though, as Solskjaer explained in his pre-match conference.

“Alex is fine. That was just a tactical decision we made, a change to the set-up.”

Shaw provides more defensive surety while Telles is more enterprising going forward and the former is likely to get the nod to keep the Aston Villa attackers in check. Aaron Wan-Bissaka should complete the back four.

Scott McTominay and Fred were rested against Wolves but are likely to reprise their roles in the double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 setup once again.

In front, there is no looking past Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes. Rashford got his first home goal of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign in style in a stoppage-time winner against Wolves during the midweek and will hope to kick on at home now. Bruno Fernandes will look to continue his fiery form that has converted Manchester United into potential title challengers.

The last spot will go to one of Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James. Solskjaer will be wary of Manchester United’s inability to unlock sturdy defensive setups and we could see Mata start on the right to provide that added oomph to cause trouble to an Aston Villa backline that has proven to be a rock especially in away games, conceding less than a goal every other game.

Edinson Cavani’s suspension means Solskjaer will look towards Greenwood as more of a substitute, if needed, instead of starting him on the right from the get-go.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial

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