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F.A. Cup preview


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Preview of the up-coming F.A. Cup 3rd round tie versus Manchester United

What : FA Cup 3rd round

Who : Manchester United

When : Saturday 17:15

Where : Villa Park

Ref : Martin Atkinson

TV : BBC1

Late Saturday afternoon sees the all-too-familiar shadow of Manchester United arriving at Villa Park for an FA Cup 3rd round tie. As we reported back when the draw was made, this is effectively the 5th time in 9 years that Villa have drawn Man United in the 3rd round of the planet's oldest football cup competition and the 2nd time in a row. So the 2 teams should know each other pretty well come 5:15pm.

Manchester United have already been to Villa Park this season and returned home with an all-too-comfortable 4-1 victory courtesy of goals from Rooney(2), Ferdinand & Giggs. But this was in keeping with the very impressive record they have over Villa since the inception of the Premier League. In fact we have not beaten United in our last 20 attempts, stretching back to October 1999. The last time we beat them in the FA Cup was 51 years ago when we beat them in the final to lift the cup that we haven't lifted since.

Therefore as a Villa fan you might be forgiven for thinking this is going to be another stroll in the park. However there is definitely a section of Villa fans, and judging by the internet forums even a section of Man Utd fans, who think this might just be the time we can put them to the sword. Man Utd are, by their own high standards, not exactly firing on all cylinders at present. We are coming off a good run of results, unbeaten in 5 and confidence is high. We even managed to win our last home game !! Although we've gone out in the 3rd round of the FA Cup in 5 of the last 6 years.

On the team news front it sounds as though Carlos Tevez is anything ranging from 'extremely doubtful' to 'ruled out'. Unfortunately Wayne Rooney will likely make a comeback after a virus and Edwin van der Sar returns after a groin injury. Concerning Villa is the news that John Carew is touch & go with his knee injury and the game may have come too soon for him. That will be a blow for us as I'd like to have seen Rio & Vidic occupied by John's considerable physical presence allowing Gabby the relative freedom to cause havoc. We have no other injury worries so O'Neill will have decisions to make both in central defence and in midfield.

Even with United stuttering, Villa will have to be at their best to get the result and go through. Here's hoping we'll still be interested in the draw when the teams go into the hat for the 4th round.

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We have not beat them since the FA Cup Final in 1957 :hooray: in this competition, having lost to them in the 1963 competition 0-1 at Old Trafford, in the 1976 one 1-2 again at their place, in 2002 2-3 at Villa Park, in 2004 1-2 again at home, and last year 1-2 back at their place. Surely it is high time to lift this curse and for it to be sixth time liucky or will we have to wait another year for it to be 7th time lucky?

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