Liverpool vs Aston Villa Preview
Following an impressive unbeaten start to the new season Villa are now facing an intimidating run of fixtures. After the first genuinely exciting deadline day for some time, Tom Cleverley will be among those considered for the starting line-up against Liverpool, following a switch that actually took place beyond the deadline. Can the new-look Villa team impress the nation live on the Sky TV cameras?
Lambert on player contracts and Delph
“There a few players who are going to be out of contract, to be honest, and we’ll try to get around to talking to them.
“I spoke to Fabian early doors and we’ll see how it goes. We’ve just got a new chief executive in, which I’m certain will help.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll sit down with Fabian. I’m not worried. When players get into the last year of their contract, it is what it is.”
Lambert on Villa’s form
“We’re more mature and we play a bit differently. Tactically it has gone really well for us in the first three games. Newcastle are a good side and that’s a game and we might have lost last year.
“We’ve looked solid in every department so we’ve got to keep it going and not think we’ve arrived. It’s a good start.”
Rodgers on Villa threat
“We deservedly lost in my first season and then we started slowly last season and showed real character to draw the game.
“They have started well and I am pleased for Paul (Lambert) because a few years ago when he went in there he looked towards building a young group of players and the first season was difficult.
“But they have developed and grown and got better and this season will see them and their young players – and the faith they put in them – bear fruit.”
7th April 2012 Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 1
Against a struggling Liverpool managed by Kenny Dalglish it was important that we got at least a point as we faced the threat of relegation. Somehow we did, thanks to a goal from… Chris Herd!
Liverpool – Last five matches at home: W 4, L 1
Villa – Last five matches away: W 1, L 4
Villa haven’t lost against Liverpool at Anfield since 2010.
One to Watch
Mario Balotelli – No doubt the media spotlight will be on the unpredictable striker. When he’s in the mood to score goals, he can pose a real threat
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
All has been going smoothly for Villa but a trip to Anfield will be a very different test. Facing a Liverpool side who will have learnt from the mistakes of last season (and have spent the Suarez money well) is never goin to be easy, and this game follows an impressive win for Rodger’s men away at Spurs.
Suarez struggled in his last few appearances against Villa but new boy Mario didn’t have that problem last time he was in the Premier League. He’s scored four times against Villa in two matches, worryingly including a hat-trick in 2010. If Rickie Lambert replaces the injured Sturridge he will be looking to build on the three goals he’s scored in his last four appearances against Villa.
Vlaar, who has done such a good job in the past of keeping out Liverpool’s attacking forces, is likely to miss the game through injury.
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
It’s been long overdue but finally Villa have started winning the games that fans used to circle on the calendar as ‘winnable’. Such has been the rollercoaster of the Lambert reign in the past that previous seasons would have seen losses against the likes of Stoke and Newcastle.
If we can build on this and continue the tradition of upsetting the top 4 teams, as we have in previous seasons, there’s no way we’ll finish in the bottom half of the table.
If Okore steps in for Vlaar, let’s hope he continues to show the promise we saw before his long-term injury.
Why Villa have got this game in the bag
The notion of a ‘bogey’ team is a strange one, and usually defies any sort of logic, but if there’s anyone who meets that description from a Liverpool perspective in recent seasons, it’s Aston Villa. Villa are one of two teams (alongside Chelsea) who Liverpool have never beat at home under Rodgers.
Even more interesting is the fact that Lambert has never lost at Anfield as a manager in the Premier League.
Given Anfield has become something of a fortress in recent months, Villa will have to take the chances they get which we have been doing lately. In fact, we’re the only team to have more points than shots on target (7 points, 5 shots on target). This could be down to a new found balance in the team, which has led to a more resolute Villa squad.
Weimann always does well at Anfield and Agbonlahor could have the perfect chance to celebrate his new deal with a goal, while Cleverley could get a run out with the chance to silence some of his social media critics.
Lambert recently said the squad is the strongest it’s been under his management, and Saturday could be a perfect time to prove this. UTV.
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball