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Can Aston Villa shock Manchester United?

Aston Villa seem to have finally turned a corner this season but they face a massive challenge at Old Trafford on Tuesday night when they face Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Gerard Houllier has led Villa to three wins in a row, but the French manager will have reminded his side that after United came back from two goals down to snatch a draw at Villa Park in November it signalled a slump that saw them lose six of their following eight games.

Brad Friedel will set a record at Old Trafford as he will become the oldest Villa player in the club's history at 39 years and 259 days. But the biggest boost for the visitors will be the return of record signing Darren Bent (8/1 to open the scoring) as he was ineligible for the FA Cup win against Blackburn last weekend.

The England forward was one of three signings during the January transfer window for Villa, along with Jean Makoun and US star Michael Bradley. The French midfielder is a doubt for Old Trafford with a thigh injury but Bradley, who has arrived on loan from Borussia Moenchengladbach, could be named in the squad and the American is 25/1 to score the first goal on his debut.

Steven Ireland and Curtis Davies have both exited Villa, but neither has really made an impression and might not be massively missed by fans.

Villa are high on confidence after their back-to-back Premier League wins over Manchester City and Wigan, which have moved them to six points ahead of the relegation places, but they remain 9/1 outsiders with bookmakers to win at Old Trafford.

The club cannot be complacent however as the league has been very closely fought all season, and Villa star Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has been forced to play on the left side of midfield since Bent arrived at the club, has stated the players cannot rest on their laurels thinking they are clear of relegation danger.

"Even though we've got the two wins, we're still not safe, other teams are a win away from overtaking you, it's a weird table at the moment," he told BBC WM.

"We're just going to go into every game now with the same attitude and try to pick up points."

Manchester United are still unbeaten in the Premier League and are looking to extend that run to 24 matches at Old Trafford on Tuesday night. They are highly fancied at 4/11 with bookies to keep all three points.

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to have Rio Ferdinand and Rafael back from injuries, while he should recall Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, and Nemanja Vidic after they were rested for the FA Cup win over Southampton.

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