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Combined XI: Aston Villa v Manchester United (Current)

Ahead of an intriguing match up between Aston Villa and Manchester United this weekend, we have pieced together a combined XI featuring players from both of these sides.

Football

A crucial encounter which will see the fourth-placed Villans host sixth-placed United - with eight points between the two teams in the Premier League - it's fair to say there's a lot at stake at Villa Park.

The previous meeting between these two sides was a thriller on Boxing Day, with Villa racing into a two goal lead at Old Trafford before the Red Devils valiantly fought back for a 3-2 victory.

We assess the strength of both squads by putting together a combined XI, which lines up in a classic 4-4-2 formation:
 

GK: Emi Martinez

Aston Villa's Emi Martinez seems a straightforward pick in goal, with the World Cup winner an ever reliable figure between the sticks for Unai Emery's charges.

An imposing presence at 6ft 5ins and a vocal leader on the pitch, the £20m signing of Martinez from Arsenal in 2020 has proved a shrewd piece of business from the Villans.

A tremendous shot stopper with the size and stature to take crosses with confidence, 31-year-old Martinez is the kind of goalkeeper who is capable of delivering inspired individual displays which can help steer his side to valuable results.
 

RB: Ezri Konsa

Although naturally a central defender, Ezri Konsa has been regularly deployed at right-back for Villa this season as part of manager Emery's preferred defensive structure which features three out-and-out defenders with an attacking full-back on the opposite side.

This has most commonly seen Villa line up with Konsa on the right of the defence forming a defensive shield around a centre-back partnership, typically Diego Carlos and Pau Torres, whilst Lucas Digne or Alex Moreno are given license to get forward and join in attacks.

This defensive setup has proved successful for the Villans, with Emery's side having conceded the fourth fewest goals in the Premier League so far this term behind leading pack Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal.
 

CB: Diego Carlos

Spending the majority of his debut season sidelined with an Achilles injury after transferring from Sevilla for £26m in the summer of 2022, Diego Carlos has been an impressive figure at the back for Villa under Emery this term.

An aggressive and uncompromising defender, the Brazilian is also quick on the ground which is important given manager Emery's preference for his back four to employ a high line.
 

CB: Pau Torres

A defender long courted by some of the top clubs in Europe, Villa's signing of Spain international Pau Torres for £31.5m from Villarreal was a considerable coup for the club last summer.

The 27-year-old has certainly delivered on expectations having shone in his debut Premier League campaign, with his unflappable and elegant style of play catching the eye.

A tremendous reader of the game, the left-footed Torres' terrific ball playing ability allows this Villa side to play out from the back and bypass the opposition's press.
 

LB: Luke Shaw

When fit and available, Manchester United's Luke Shaw is undoubtedly one of the top left-backs in the country, and the 28-year-old is a player Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag values highly.

The experienced Englishman is an all-rounded operator who is both adept at defending in one-v-one situations and also capable of contributing with assists in the final third.
 

RM: John McGinn

A central midfielder for the majority of his Aston Villa career, deployed in a deep-lying role by former manager Steven Gerrard, Scotland international John McGinn has been freed up in a more advanced position under Emery.

Regularly taking up a berth on the right-hand side of Villa's midfield, club captain McGinn thrives when driving infield onto his trusty left foot and making things happen in the final third.

A player with great stamina and hunger to succeed, 29-year-old McGinn sets the tone for this Villa side who have proven capable of overcoming some of the top sides in the country so far this season including Man City and Arsenal.
 

CM: Douglas Luiz

Arguably one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz has enjoyed an outstanding season to date for Emery's Aston Villa.

Typically occupying a deep-lying midfield berth, Luiz boasts an all-round skillset with the passing range to set the tempo for the Villans, engine to cover every blade of grass and technical quality to chip in with vital goals having found the net on six occasions in the English top flight so far this season.

Previously on the books of Man City, 25-year-old Luiz's consistent performances in the heart of Villa's midfield have reportedly drawn transfer interest from some of the biggest clubs in the country including Arsenal and Liverpool.
 

CM: Bruno Fernandes

Although not enjoying his best individual campaign by his typically high standards, Man Utd captain Bruno Fernandes remains one of the Red Devils' most talented players.

An attacking midfielder who performs best when freed up in a number 10 role, Fernandes is capable of creating a high volume of chances for his teammates and is also a very accomplished goalscorer himself when at the top of his game.

As one of the team's most influential figures, when Fernandes is in form the results tend to usually follow for United, with the 29-year-old still yet to truly come alive for the Red Devils this term.
 

LM: Alejandro Garnacho

A bright spot in what has been a largely forgettable season for Man Utd to date, 19-year-old Argentine winger Alejandro Garnacho appears a very promising prospect at Old Trafford.

Scorer of one the best Premier League goals ever, never mind this season, as United overcame Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park in November, Garnacho is a player who has already demonstrated his ability to produce spectacular moments.

United supporters will hope there is plenty more to come from the tricky teenager, with Garnacho certainly possessing an abundance of natural talent.
 

ST: Ollie Watkins

One of the best strikers in the Premier League so far this season, Ollie Watkins provides this Villa team with a potent focal point in attack.

Becoming a more well-rounded player and reliable goalscorer under the auspices of Basque manager Emery, Watkins has registered an impressive 21 goal contributions in the Premier League so far this term - 11 goals and 10 assists.

The ex-Brentford striker will be aiming to maintain his performance levels until the end of the campaign to ensure he is selected in England manager Gareth Southgate's final squad for this summer's Euros in Germany.
 

ST: Rasmus Hojlund

Enduring a difficult start to his Man Utd career after transferring from Atalanta for £72m last summer  - failing to score in his first 14 Premier League matches - 21-year-old Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund appears to be finding his feet at Old Trafford.

Having now scored in four successive Premier League games, Hojlund looks a player reborn with confidence running through his veins.

A striker with great athleticism and a visible hunger to find the net, the Denmark international definitely has the potential to develop into a big player for Erik ten Hag's side.
 

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