PREVIEW By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
The Premier League lives up to its self-billing as the world’s most competitive league on a weekly basis.
But that label would ignore the abjectness of Aston Villa, one of the worst teams to ever play in the modern English top flight.
Manchester United host the Premier League’s bottom club on Saturday and even the most pessimistic home supporter will be confident of securing the win needed to confirm Villa’s relegation.
Wayne Rooney returned to the United team as a late substitute in the midweek FA Cup win over West Ham and could come into the reckoning to make his first start in two months.
Louis van Gaal has made no attempt to hide his admiration for Rooney, and he is likely to consider fast-tracking the forward back into the starting X1 as the Premier League giants aim to keep their top-four hopes alive.
That would not necessarily mean omitting brilliant young striker Marcus Rashford, who will be hopeful of keeping his place in the starting X1 for what would be a remarkable 12th consecutive match.
With Van Gaal consistently favouring Anthony Martial on the left flank, Rooney could start in the No10 role ahead of Jesse Lingard, who has not convinced in that position during the last few matches.
A third match in seven days might be considered too much for the 34-year-old legs of Michael Carrick, which could mean Morgan Schneiderlin returning to partner Marouane Fellaini in central midfield.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah, outstanding in midweek, should be one of the first names on the team-sheet and given a chance at right-back, where he looks marginally more comfortable than on the left side of the defence.
Manchester United (possible) De Gea; Fosu-Mensah, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Fellaini; Mata, Rooney, Martial; Rashford