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Aston Villa out to dent Manchester United's title chase

Aston Villa managed to secure their first victory at Villa Park since August when a late goal from James Collins gave them a win over Blackpool in midweek.

On Saturday lunchtime they face a Manchester United side who have drawn five of their six away games this season. The home side will go in with some confidence after Gerard Houllier's men managed to end their five-match winless run in the Premier League.

Villa have held United to draws at Villa Park for the last two seasons, but have not beaten them on home turf since a league cup clash between the sides in October 1999. This poor record is reflected in the match odds as Villa are seen as 4/1 outsiders to get the win compared to 5/6 for United.

They are struggling with something of an injury crisis as the likes of John Carew, Emile Heskey, Steve Sidwell, Nigel Reo-Coker and Stiliyan Petrov are all out, and they have been joined by Carlos Cuellar and Habib Beye after the Blackpool game.

Houllier has to rely on youngsters such as Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso - but one bit of good news is the return of Gabriel Agbonlahor.  The pace of Agbonlahor and Delfouneso, both priced at 9/1 to get the first goal in the game, could pose troubles to a United defence that has looked prone to conceding goals away from Old Trafford this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men have not looked as solid as in previous years and already have conceded two goals or more in six Premier League games. Add into that the fact they have lost leads to draw on their travels at Bolton, Everton and Fulham, and there is a good chance that Villa could further dent United's bid to catch Chelsea by taking one, or even three, points off their visitors.

Houllier has worked hard to improve Villa since he took over at the club, undertaking such tasks as introducing double training session to ensure his players can cope with the attacking brand of football he wants them to play. A lot is likely to depend on the form of Ashley Young and Steward Downing on the wings if the home side wants to take all three points and look to climb the Premier League table.

United however will be looking to put the disappointment of the bore-draw Manchester derby behind them on Saturday lunchtime, and know they could put some real pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League if they win at Villa Park.

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