In-trouble Aston Villa face Champions League chasing Manchester United in the Premier League at Villa Park on Thursday as they look for crucial points in the fight for survival.
Dean Smith’s side haven’t won a Premier League game since January, and go in to the game with Manchester United third-from-bottom with 5 games to play.
With Watford’s win over a doomed Norwich City side on Tuesday evening, even an unlikely victory over United won’t hoist Villa out of the division’s relegation zone.
The gap to safety is now 4 points, and anything but a win will accentuate their fears of the drop.
Thursday’s clash at Villa Park sees them come up against the Premier League side arguably in the richest vein of form right now, with opponents Manchester United unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions.
Such form has seen the Red Devils collect 10 of the 12 points available to them since the season resumed, as well as reaching an FA Cup semi final.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have his sights set on the top 4, with Leicester and Chelsea in the crosshairs – although 5th may well be enough for Champions League football next season if Manchester City’s European ban sticks.
However, the Norwegian may be without Victor Lindelof for the trip to Birmingham, after the defender was withdrawn at half-time last time out against Bournemouth.
If the Swede doesn’t feature, Axel Tuanzebe or Phil Jones are unlikely to be called upon as replacements, with the duo expected to be further down the defensive pecking order.
Aston Villa have significant injury worries, with striker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton not expected to play again until next season.
Matt Targett is likely to be put through a fitness test ahead of the game, as are influential pair Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish – Villa hearts were in mouths after the two reportedly picked up knocks against Liverpool.
Bjorn Engels is also struggling with an Achilles problem, and will likely miss out against United.
Aston Villa v Manchester United is an 8.15pm kick off on Thursday, July 9.