Our festive programme continues with great gusto as we take on Birmingham City, at St Andrews, on Tuesday evening. Can United stretch their unbeaten start to the season to eighteen games? Recent evidence suggests that they indeed can, against a Birmingham side, managed by Alex McLeish, that are not having such a good season this time around.
Sir Alex Ferguson, despite his side having almost reached the turn of the year unbeaten in the Premier League, appears to be a little wary of the trip to St Andrews, on Tuesday evening, commenting immediately after the victory over Sunderland,
“Birmingham will be fresh on Tuesday. Going down there is always difficult, they`ve always had a strong home record.”
True they might be fresh after having seen their Boxing Day fixture postponed but United should still be too strong for the Midlands side!
Birmingham Team News:
Alex McLeish will be keen to get his sides festive programme underway and could even welcome back the ex-Arsenal and Barcelona player, Alexander Hleb after the player has been out injured, with a hamstring problem, for four weeks.
The defence is likely to be stiffened with the return to the side of Liam Ridgewell after the defender missed Birmingham`s last outing through illness.
Player to watch: Barry Ferguson
A combative midfield player who has enjoyed a new lease of life since joining Birmingham City. It`d be great to see him head-to-head with Paul Scholes if Scholes had shrugged off his niggling injury.
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson will be without the injured Valencia, Hargreaves and Scholes but it is hoped that Nani, who missed the Sunderland fixture with a hip injury, will return.
One other absentee is Ji-Sung Park, the Korean having returned home to participate in the Asian Cup, a competition that will see Park miss a handful of United games.
Two other players could also be ruled out of contention. Darren Fletcher is struggling to overcome a heavy cold (man-flu) whilst John O`Shea has a calf problem to shake off.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Still no sign of that elusive goal from open play but clearly edging towards being back to his best. Wayne will be hoping that, for once, he makes the headlines rather than his strike partner, Dimitar Berbatov.
Match Facts & Stats
Birmingham have a poor record against Manchester United, the Midlands side have not registered a victory over us in 22 league matches. Indeed, their last victory over us came back in November 1978 when we were soundly beaten 5-1.
In recent times the fixtures between the two sides have been close with United having to settle for 1-0 wins on three of the last four occasions.
Birmingham though have a good home record, having only been beaten once in their last 23 Premier League fixtures, United though, have a relatively poor away record this season, although they`ve not lost, they`ve only won once in seven fixtures.
I`d be foolish not to tip United to win this one. We`re unbeaten this season and the flowing football has returned. If we can play like we did in the first fifteen minutes against Sunderland, Birmingham will be easily beaten and here at Vital United we don`t expect United to come away with anything less than, at a minimum, a two goal victory.
Our next match is also on the road with United going to the Hawthorns to take on a West Brom side that earned a point at Old Trafford earlier this season.