Dean Smith has made just one change to his Aston Villa starting XI by bringing in Tyrone Mings for Kortney Hause.
The England centre-back returns from a one-match suspension he served against Chelsea on Monday. Hause, though, is among the subs.
As for Ross Barkley, the 27-year-old hasn’t made tonight’s squad despite Smith previously saying he was close to making the Crystal Palace fixture on Boxing Day. Barkley, of course, sat out of the 1-1 draw against his parent club on Monday.
It means Barkley has missed the last seven matches due to a hamstring injury picked up against Brighton on November 21.
From back to front for Villa, Emiliano Martinez is vying for his ninth clean sheet this season in goal with Smith going with Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Mings, and Matt Targett in front of the Argentinian.
In midfield, John McGinn – fresh from his star showing at Stamford Bridge – partners Douglas Luiz as Villa’s two sitters with the pair having Bertrand Traore, Jack Grealish and Anwar El Ghazi in front of them, the latter enjoying a real hot streak of form having scored five goals in his last five games. Ahead of Villa’s attacking trident will be Watkins once more with the striker looking for his first Villa goal in eight attempts here at Old Trafford this evening.
Ahead of kick-off, Smith said of tonight’s challenge: “We were more fearful of these fixtures last season because of the newness of actually getting into the Premier League.
“This season we know where we’re at. We’ve proven to ourselves by going to Arsenal and winning, going to Leicester and winning, beating Wolves and getting a point at Chelsea. We can go and compete with the best in this league. We’re excited about the opportunities and we’ll be ready for them.”
Here are the Villa and Manchester United teams in full BELOW.
MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; Pogba, McTominay Fred; Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
SUBS: Henderson, Telles, Mata, James, Lingard, Matic, Greenwood, van de Beek, Tuanzebe.
ASTON VILLA: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Grealish, Traore; Watkins.
SUBS: Heaton, Hause, Taylor, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Nakamba, Hourihane, J.Ramsey, Davis.
THE REF: Michael Oliver.
VAR: Paul Tierney.