Whether through stubborn pride or, much more likely, because he doesn’t give a monkeys what the press thinks, the much maligned 3-5-2 formation has been used again of late by Louis van Gaal.
Many onlookers assumed that the system had been scrapped after a string of confused performances from Manchester United at the beginning of the season. But against Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool we once again saw three centre-halfs and the use of wing backs.
While Manchester United weren’t particularly convincing in any of those games they did win all three and it could be argued that the system suits the players available to Van Gaal.
It means that Manchester United can deploy Valencia and Young as wing backs in the absence of Luke Shaw and Rafael da Silva. Both of the wingers have lacked penetration over the last couple of years and these roles have given them a new lease of life. Both look much more convincing as wing backs than wingers.
Furthermore it allows Louis to use 3 centre backs in what has been a less than assured defence in this campaign.
It also means that Manchester United can shoehorn Juan Mata into the side.
So will we see this formation against Villa? 3-5-2 offers more defensive cover which can be vital in tough away games. So the answer is ‘quite possibly’.