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Villa v Man Utd match preview: Ireland hails "upbeat atmosphere"
Stephen Ireland in positive mood.
10th Nov 2012
Villa v Man Utd match preview: Ireland hails "upbeat atmosphere"


By Paul Brown

Stephen Ireland heads into this evening's clash with boyhood heroes Manchester United in positive mood, thanks to the upbeat atmosphere Paul Lambert has created at Bodymoor Heath.

Ireland is the perfect guy to ask about the vibe inside the training ground as the team look to try and dampen the scorching form of the Red Devils tonight.

The midfield ace struggled in his initial few seasons in claret and blue, never quite making the impact he hoped for when he joined the club in 2010.

But now he's thriving under the stewardship of Lambert - and he thinks the new boss is setting Villa on the right path for success now and in the future.

Despite being a Manchester City hero, Ireland grew up as a Manchester United fan, idolising the trickery of Eric Cantona.

Cantona, of course, went on to film success but it's Lambert's team, he believes, that are attempting to play Hollywood football.

Ireland loves the fresh approach of Lambert, who will, he says, send Villa out to entertain - and hopefully win.

"We're being encouraged to play football, we're winning or losing in style, he said.

"It's not good to lose, of course, but at least we're having a go.

"We're only a few minor details away from being a good side.

"I think the fans are happier this year for obvious reasons too.

"They're behind us. I feel they're appreciating the way we're going about things."

But it's not just the style of football that has so encouraged Ireland, now a lynchpin in midfield.

It's the motivational skill of Lambert with his players.

He urges them to go out and express themselves but isn't shy about telling them what they've done wrong if they don't perform.

"He's really hands on. He's honest, straight and upfront.

"You've got to work hard to get in the team. Everyone's chasing those places, but he's kept everyone involved.

"The players have bought in, see a good future ahead of them.

"From the first day till now it's been brilliant. He's done a really good job. I trust him to do a good job for the rest of the season.

"He gives you a chance too. He'll take you aside, show you footage of what you've done, tell you what he wants. He's working with everybody."

Ireland knows tonight will be the ultimate test for Lambert's Lions as Sir Alex Ferguson fires up his championship-chasers at their favourite away venue.

He is more than aware of the difficulty of the task but, despite the result in this one, he expects Villa to have a solid season, tipping the claret and blue troops for a top half finish.

"There's United and then City. Those are two games I'm looking forward to," he added. "I think we can raise our game.

"United look good, very consistent. Van Persie and Rooney are really getting that relationship going. They could be dangerous.

"But we have some good young players here and good experienced players too. I think we should be up in the top half. We just need a few things to go our way."

Lambert, too, believes luck will play a big part in tonight's encounter.

If Villa can get their fair share, we could be looking at a famous victory.

MATCH INFO

Match: Villa v Manchester United
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Venue: Villa Park 
Date: Saturday November 10, 2012
Referee: Kevin Friend 

AVTV DON'T MISS

Lambert Press Conference - watch now 
Pre-Match Show - watch now
Memory Match - watch now

TEAM NEWS

Darren Bent, Joe Bennett and Richard Dunne are struggling to be fit for the Manchester United clash.

Bent missed last week's trip to Sunderland with an ankle injury and remains doubtful, while Bennett [knee] and Dunne [groin] are also unlikely to be feature.

Charles N'Zogbia [knee] and Nathan Baker [ankle] are both still out of action.

Eric Lichaj is suspended but Villa are set to welcome back Karim El Ahmadi from a one-match ban.

Meanwhile, Jonny Evans is doubtful and could add to Manchester United's defensive concerns.

Fellow centre-backs Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic are still sidelined with knee injuries, while midfield duo Shinji Kagawa [knee] and Nani [hamstring] are also out.

GENTING BETTING GUIDE

Villa win - 5/1
Draw - 12/5
Villa win 2-0 - 9/1
Draw half-time/Villa full-time - 11/1
Benteke score first Villa win 2-1 - 75/1
Scorecast bet of Benteke score first Villa win 2-1, £10 on this would see you earn £760

Click here for FAQs on betting.

Don't forget, if you win your bet, cash payment is available after the game from the North Stand payout office, which is open an hour after the game finishes.

However you are also able collect your winnings online via www.gentingcasino.com/villaclaim.

Good luck and let's hope for a great result!

COLOURS

Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.

LAST TIME OUT

Villa 0-1 Manchester United 
October 29, 2011
Goals: Jones

MATCH STATS

Villa's last win against Manchester United came courtesy of a Gabby Agbonlahor goal at Old Trafford in December 2009.

Man United have lost just one of their last 33 meetings with Villa.

The Red Devils' last Premier League defeat at Villa Park came on the opening day of the 1995-96 season.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team have won their last 23 top-flight matches after scoring the opening goal.

Robin van Persie has scored eight goals and registered three assists in 10 Barclays Premier League appearances for United.

Make sure you're here to roar on the lads against Manchester United.

Genting

 

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