Larsson set to make Man U debut against Villa
Former Celtic and FC Barca striker Larsson has joined the Red Devils on loan from Swedish club Helsingborg and would make his debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.india Updated: Jan 06, 2007 17:03 IST
Henrik Larsson could make his Manchester United debut alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Sunday.
United could be fielding a Scandinavian attack with a combined age of 68.
Former Celtic and FC Barcelona striker Larsson has joined the Red Devils on loan from Swedish club Helsingborg and should make his debut at Old Trafford at age 35.
With Louis Saha injured and Wayne Rooney likely to be rested, United manager Alex Ferguson is expected to also start Solskjaer, who turns 34 in February. The Norwegian striker has returned from two years of injury problems with eight goals this season.
After the tough midwinter spell of four Premier League games in 10 days, Ferguson will rest several of his regulars ahead of next month's Champions League games against Lille. Poland goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak will take over from Edwin van der Sar to make his fourth appearance of the season.
"With European football beckoning next month it is important Tomasz gets a bit of football," Ferguson said. "Edwin has been fantastic but I think he understands we need to give the boy some experience."
Six points ahead at the top of the Premier League, United is aiming to take its record number of FA Cup triumphs to 12 and six since Ferguson arrived at the club in 1986.
With seven triumphs, Villa is tied for fourth in the list of FA Cup winners, although it hasn't won soccer's most famous domestic cup competition since 1957, when it beat Manchester United 2-1. Its only appearance in the final since then was in 2000, when it lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
Villa hasn't won in 10 games and manager Martin O'Neill, who had Larsson in his team at Celtic, is aware that United has strength in depth to cause problems, especially at Old Trafford.
"Against Manchester United, you know it won't necessarily be a free-kick or a set-piece that will be your undoing because they have the capabilities of playing through you," O'Neill said.
"If we play like we have recently, certainly going forward, we look as if we're going to create things. I've been delighted with the team, and we've played some really great stuff. But we need a marked improvement before we start calling ourselves a quality team."
O'Neill said he believed Larsson still had plenty to offer United, even at age 35.
"Henrik has been and still is a quality player. He is also not too old either," he said. "I can see exactly why Sir Alex Ferguson has gone for him because he will need a number of quality players in January-February and Henrik is certainly that."
The confrontation at Old Trafford is one of four third-round matches to involve Premier League matchups. Defending champion Liverpool hosts Arsenal on Saturday, when Everton plays Blackburn and Portsmouth meets Wigan.
Premier League champion Chelsea hosts Macclesfield, which is next to last in League Two but enjoying a revival under former England captain Paul Ince.
Several more Premier League clubs face teams from just below, the Football League Championship. Newcastle visits championship leader Birmingham, Tottenham goes to Cardiff, Middlesbrough travels to Hull City, Reading hosts Burnley, Fulham visits Leicester, and Manchester City goes to Sheffield Wednesday.
Others meet League One opponents _ Bolton visits Doncaster, Sheffield United hosts Swansea, West Ham welcomes Brighton and Charlton goes to Nottingham Forest. Watford receives League Two Stockport.
First Published: Jan 06, 2007 13:06 IST