Aston Villa – Manchester United Preview: Van Gaal's men aim to stretch impressive run

The Red Devils have recorded six successive victories and face a Villa side who have not beaten their visitors in the Premier League since 1995

Manchester United will be looking to stretch their Premier League winning run to seven against a depleted Aston Villa on Saturday.

Following a poor start to the campaign, Louis van Gaal’s men have found their stride in recent weeks, picking up a 3-0 victory over fierce rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford last time out.

The sequence has seen United haul themselves back into the title race and the 20-time English champions sit eight points adrift of leaders Chelsea in third.

Local rivals Manchester City are three points closer and a win at Villa Park this weekend would keep the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who have also hit a run of form of late.

United will take huge confidence from their recent record against Villa, having fired 18 goals past the Birmingham-based outfit in the past three seasons, conceding just three in reply.

Indeed, Villa have not beaten United in the league since 1995, and a series of injuries are set to make life difficult once again this time around.

Nathan Baker (knee), Joe Cole (hamstring), Libor Kozak (broken leg), Philippe Senderos (calf) and Ashley Westwood (knee) all contribute to a selection headache for manager Paul Lambert.

To make matters worse, Kieran Richardson and Alan Hutton are both suspended, while loanee Tom Cleverley, who would have served a one-game ban anyway, is ineligible to face his parent club.

Lambert was boosted by the return to fitness of Fabian Delph for last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom, while Ron Vlaar is in contention for a start, and the Scot is confident he has the players to cope with his current crisis.

“There’s a few out,” he said. “But I am not going to sit here and be negative about it. I have total belief that we will go out there and try to win a game of football.

“Fabian is coming back into the fray, Ron is back as well. We have got players who can hurt teams as well, that’s for sure.

“The team I pick will be strong. We will go and try to win.”

Offering an update on Kozak, who is nearing 12 months on the sidelines, Lambert added on Thursday: “Libor is doing alright. He had a scan yesterday.

“The bone is definitely getting stronger and healing. He’s doing well but he’s still a bit away.”

United have not been without injury problems of their own this term and look set to be without defenders Chris Smalling (groin) and Luke Shaw (ankle).

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