Cristiano Ronaldo will be licking his lips ahead of Manchester United’s GameDay clash against Aston Villa, who he personally has a fine record against.
No Premier League team has conceded more goals against Ronaldo than Villa, who have been breached by the potent Portuguese eight times.
Things haven’t always gone to plan for Ronaldo against the Villans, however. His first red card as a professional came against them.
The final day of the 2003/04 Premier League season saw Arsenal secure their Invincibles status as they went the entire campaign unbeaten with a win over Leicester.
But approximately 115 miles up the road some low key drama unfolded at Villa Park as some petulance from Ronaldo saw him and his dark, with a hint of ginger, locks get an early shower.
Ronaldo looked very different to the man we know now. The then-19-year-old, who was still very much learning his craft, copied Thierry Henry’s look of socks over the knees and his teeth weren’t as pristine as they are now.
But the great player we know now came out in bursts as Ronaldo ran Villans left-back Jlloyd Samuel ragged with his superb athleticism.
His impact was immediate. Ronaldo fired in Manchester United’s opener just three minutes in, finding space on the right before beating Thomas Sorensen at his near post from the edge of the box.
Ruud van Nistelrooy doubled the Red Devils’ advantage in a match that had more riding on it for Villa as they were looking to sneak into fifth and the sole UEFA Cup spot ahead of Newcastle.
The first half didn’t end so well for Ronaldo as he was booked for diving, although replays suggest he may have actually been tripped by Ulises de la Cruz.
Ronaldo started the second half as he meant to go on, continuing to cause problems for Samuel down the Man United right.
Darren Fletcher’s red card in the 75th minute meant Man United weren’t as gung-ho going forward but they’d be forced to batten down the hatches ten minutes later after an ill-advised decision from Ronaldo.
After being flagged offside, Ronaldo opted to chip the ball over Sorensen to prevent a quick free-kick being taken. However, it only served to put his teammates under more pressure as referee Rob Styles showed him his second yellow, reducing Man United to nine.
Fortunately for Ronaldo there was no late twist as Man United held on to their 2-0 lead.
In fairness to Ronaldo, he more than made up for that moment of madness in his remaining five years at Old Trafford.
He’ll be desperate to write another positive chapter against Villa on Saturday.
Listen to full commentary of Manchester United vs Aston Villa live on talkSPORT 2, kick-off 12:30pm
Play talkSPORT Selector and you could win big money
- Win a share of £25,000+
- Pick a Premier League team to win each week
- Entries cost £10
- 18+, Please gamble responsibly, gambleaware.org
- Sign up here