Recent Meetings Away From Villa Park
A lot has been made of Aston Villa’s recent injury woes, although to be honest there hasn’t really been an overall difference whether key players are fit or not. Villa managed to win their FA Cup quarter-final without Benteke, and our league form, no matter who has been playing, has been largely below par. So, in short, don’t worry about any injuries ahead of the Liverpool game.
Liverpool have their own injury worries with Adam Lallana out and also Daniel Sturridge touch and go. Yes, this Liverpool team were close to the league title last year and until back-to-back loses against Manchester United and Arsenal, had a decent run this season, but when you see their line-up it doesn’t exactly fill you with dread.
Luis Suarez was largely responsible for Liverpool’s rise last season in the league, but despite his dive to win a penalty last season, Villa even coped with him surprisingly well and he’s gone now.
The thing is we’ve managed to do very well against Liverpool away from Villa Park, regardless of who was in the team.
Remember Anfield, 15th December 2012? When Villa won 3-1 in emphatic fashion with Benteke unplayable? Well just look at the Villa starting 11 for that game and it would make you wince if they were playing in this season’s FA Cup semi final against the reds.
December 2012 vs Liverpool
25. Bannan (El Ahmadi – 85′ )
14. Holman (Delph – 69′ )
26. Weimann (N’Zogbia – 90′ )
A midfield of Westwood, Herd, Bannan and Holman… it’s bordering on hilarious when you look back it with hindsight. And look at the backline: Clark and Baker (the versions of them two seasons ago) and Lowton and Lichaj. You wouldn’t bet on these boys staying in the Premier League, nevermind picking up three points at Anfield.
I think this was the first game I coined the phrase ‘If you have Benteke in your team, you can beat anybody.’
The following season produced the game that saw perhaps Villa’s most impressive display of the season against a Liverpool team that should have won the league. Again, the midfield of Delph, Westwood and El Ahmadi wasn’t exactly the strongest, but it played Liverpool off the park in the first half and Villa should have been three or four up before Sturridge pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.
January 2014 vs Liverpool
23 Bertrand (Luna – 81′ )
08 El Ahmadi(Sylla – 62′ )
11 Agbonlahor (Holt – 49′ )
Losing Agbonlahor and the also El Ahmadi put the breaks on Villa and only a Suarez dive to win Liverpool the penalty they equalised from, prevented another three points at Anfield for Villa.
This season Villa arrived at Anfield with no Benteke and a centre-back pairing of Senderos and Baker. Even Kieran Richardson was in the team, which had Villa supporter expectation levels at zero points.
September 2014 vs Liverpool
08 Cleverley (Sánchez – 86′ )
11 Agbonlahor (Bent – 91′ )
10 Weimann (N’Zogbia – 72′ )
With this being the most recent encounter between the teams away from Villa Park, you’d obviously expect Villa’s team that day to be closer to the one that plays at Wembley.
Given will play instead of Guzan, but then the question is will the defence be as strong? Our full-backs (Bacuna, Lowton or Richardson) will offer more going forward, if not defensively, but Vlaar has to be considered an upgrade on Senderos.
The midfield of Delph, Cleverley and Westwood, you’d expect to be the same.
The big improvement will be having an in-form Benteke this time around and also Scott Sinclair, which ultimately makes you think the Wembley team will be a stronger line-up than the one that won at Anfield this season. And most fans would agree, we also have a better manager.
Yes, we have a squad of walking wounded, but there’s much to be optimistic about going into the semi-final clash. I for one, wouldn’t bet against us.
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