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Houllier relishing "exciting challenge" against Red Devils


By Dan Harrison

Gerard Houllier is relishing the "exciting challenge" of trying to end Manchester United's unbeaten run in the top-flight when Villa visit Old Trafford this evening.

The Red Devils are yet to be beaten in the Barclays Premier League this term but Houllier insists this makes Villa's task more intriguing.

Villa arguably came closest to inflicting a defeat on Sir Alex Ferguson's side when the teams met at Villa Park earlier this season.

Despite getting the better of United on several occasions during his time as Liverpool boss, it is the 2-2 draw in November that is fresh in the manager's mind.

"We are not the favourites, we are the underdogs," he said. "But it will be an exciting challenge. It is always a good game against Manchester United.

"I loved the first game when we played them at home. That day I realised they had a good chance of winning the title.

"Don't forget they were not top of the table at the time. But when you come back from 2-0 to 2-2 and the way they came back shows some experience and a real desire to win things.

"First of all every manager likes to play at Old Trafford. It is true I had a good record with my former club in England.

"But I think the game against Man Utd I remember is the one here [at Villa].

"We could have been three or four up before they came back and equalised."

As the transfer window slammed shut, Houllier revealed his delight at the business the club have completed in January.

Kyle Walker, Jean II Makoun, Darren Bent  and Michael Bradley have arrived, with Steve Sidwell, Curtis Davies and John Carew departing.

"We signed Kyle Walker on a loan deal, we bought Jean II Makoun, Darren Bent and Michael Bradley so that is four," he added.

"Obviously we have some players leaving and gradually we will get the squad stronger and pick up some better results."

In injury news, Gabby Agbonlahor faces a late fitness test to assess if he has overcome the hamstring injury he picked up against Blackburn.

Watch Gerard Houllier's pre-match press conference in full on AVTV - click here.

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