Let's party: Richard Dunne (left) celebrates his goal against Hull with Gabriel Agbonlahor
Villa have a shocking record at Old Trafford - having lost seven in a row there, including two 4-0 thumpings. Their last league win at United was in November 1983 - and they have failed to repeat that in their subsequent 23 attempts. But defiant Dunne believes that this Villa team is better equipped than any of their predecessors to end that run.
Later this month, after the Manchester United game, Villa must also face Arsenal and Liverpool.
Ireland centre back Dunne believes that, by the end of December, Villa will know whether they are Champions League material or not. And after the let-down of last season, when Villa's top-four challenge faded late on in the season, they are desperate to make amends this time round.
Dunne said: 'We've got three really big games coming up. Come January, we'll know what sort of position we'll be aiming for.
'We all respect and know who Man United are but, for us to start challenging the top four, these are the types of games in which we have to go and have the belief to play and impose our own game.
'We'll give it a real good go at Old Trafford and try to prove to Man United and the rest of the league that we are here to challenge. We can go there confident.
'We know that, on any given day, we can beat anyone really. We've got a squad full of quality so nobody should be afraid going into the game.
'Man United do have a decent record against Villa but this season we feel that we are a little bit different.'
Same old, same old.Richard Dunne looks on as Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo scores again against Manchester City at Old Trafford
Dunne, who switched to Villa for £5m in September, had previously spent nine years at Manchester City. Throughout that time, City tended to go to United without much hope of victory. But Dublin-born Dunne, 30, will go to Old Trafford on Saturday, confident that his new side can topple the champions.
Speaking about his track record at Old Trafford, Dunne said: 'I've had a few draws and a win there but it's been difficult over the years because a lot of them were derby games when I was playing for Manchester City,' he said. 'It'll be a different atmosphere.'
Victory for Villa would be an ideal tonic for Dunne after his recent World Cup misery with Ireland and bitter, public criticisms of FIFA.
But, should Villa fail in their three big tests, then he could be a very depressed man going in to 2010.
Villa have shone against bigger clubs already this season, though - defeating Liverpool away in August then Chelsea at home in October. Those results have helped move Villa up to fifth going into Saturday's game, just two points adrift of third-placed Arsenal.
Reasons to be cheerful: Richard Dunne after scoring against his old club Manchester City
Dunne knows he has a pivotal role to play because the key to Villa's success will be protecting their own goal. 'We've obviously got a lot of bad games coming up in December so the more clean sheets we can keep, the better,' he said. 'We know we can score goals.
'December is a difficult month anyway for any team because of the number of games. The back-to-back wins against Portsmouth and Hull mean that confidence is high.'
His City connections mean he could be a target for abuse, but Dunne will stand firm. 'I've not even thought about it,' he said. 'There are so many people there that you don't really hear it.'
Villa's away form has been far worse than their home results, though. They have gathered 17 points in eight games at Villa Park - but just nine points from seven fixtures on their travels. Although the Liverpool game is a home match, their game against Arsenal is another away one.
'The confidence has always been there, just the results haven't,' said Dunne, discussing Villa's away record. 'The performances haven't been too bad. We've conceded late goals. But we've got a side that can get results away.'
Speaking about the prospect of containing United, he said: 'From every angle, they can attack you so we have to concentrate on ourselves. It has to be everybody fighting for each other.'
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