O'Neill unfazed by United record
Martin O'Neill insists Aston Villa do not have 'a mental block' about playing at Old Trafford.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 11/12/09 4:43pm
Martin O'Neill has laughed off claims Aston Villa have a mental block when it comes to facing Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Villa look to have a measure of the so-called 'Big Four' this season having already beaten Chelsea on home soil as well as breaking Liverpool's 31-match unbeaten home in a resounding 3-1 win back in August.
But the Villans face the biggest of test of their top-four credentials this weekend when they travel to the Theatre of Dreams to take on the champions.
For over a quarter of a century, Villa have endured nothing short of a nightmare in the Red Devils' backyard - with a 26-year sequence without an away win looming as large as ever.
But O'Neill insists his side are in buoyant mood ahead of the weekend clash and is taking confidence from last season's performance against United when Villa were only undone by the late heroics of little-known Federico Macheda who secured an injury-time 3-2 win for the hosts.
"We keep being told we have not won at Old Trafford for 26 years but the whole point is we can't be affected by something that has happened when we have not been involved the majority of the time," said the Villa boss.
"In fact, in the last couple of years we have played well enough at Old Trafford to have got something out of the game.
"I am thinking particularly of an FA Cup tie a couple of years ago when we conceded a very late goal and last season in the league when we played exceptionally well and still lost right at the death.
"I don't think we have a mental block about going there despite our record at Old Trafford.
"We definitely have the ingredients and players to do well in the game and we will be going into it with plenty of confidence.
"We are playing very well at the moment and it is an opportunity for us to try and push on."
Villa central defender James Collins will return to the squad after recovering from a groin strain, but the summer signing may have a job to dislodge Carlos Cuellar after his recent fine form alongside Richard Dunne.
Cuellar, who has been a mainstay in West Midlands outfit this term, has warned of the threat that can be posed by revitalised Michael Owen after his hat-trick against Wolfsburg in the Champions League in midweek.
"I think Michael Owen is a top-class player," said the Spaniard. "He is very clever. He always seems to be in the right place inside the box.
"I played against him when we were both playing in Spain - him for Madrid and me for Osasuna. He didn't score and eventually we lost 1-0 to a David Beckham free-kick.
"But Owen is a top, top player who will cause problems for the best defenders in the world."