Ferguson's men will be crowned champions if they win the Old Trafford game after Manchester City lost at Tottenham, but the manager expects relegation-threatened Villa to pose a real challenge.
"We expect a scrap," he said. "The least you expect is for a team to fight for everything when they're down there.
"Villa showed against Stoke that they have a bit of life about them and they should have won their game against Fulham last week.
"When I saw the structure of those teams, they looked really positive selections.
"A lot of teams in that situation may pick a team to get something out of the game. Paul Lambert picked a team to win. There is a distinction."
The United boss praised rival manager Lambert for rejuvenating a Villa side who conceded 15 goals in three games over the Christmas period.
Despite picking up 10 points from their last five games Villa remain in trouble at the bottom, just three points above the drop zone.
But Ferguson is certain there will be a positive spin-off from Lambert's first season in charge.
"Young people give you a future by creating a strong blend that can last for a few years," said Ferguson.
"Young players will always remember the manager who gave them their first start. The team will improve because of that, I am sure of it.
"Paul had the courage to do it and even if they were to go down, Villa have a structure that should bring them right back up.
"But on the evidence of what we've seen recently they've every chance of staying up anyway."