Liverpool vs. Aston Villa: Lineups, Stats, Preview, Key Duels & Prediction

Liverpool

Liverpool gave the perfect response to doubters after the defeat against Manchester City, by hammering 3 past Tottenham away from home in the previous league game. Brendan Rodgers’ will be looking to build on the Spurs game as they take on a Villa side who have become somewhat of a bogey team in recent seasons on Merseyside. Liverpool head into the game on Saturday in search of recording back to back wins for the first time this season.

However, Rodgers’ Reds will have to become the first team to beat Paul Lambert’s surprisingly stubborn and ever-improving side this campaign who currently sit above Liverpool in the table having won two and drawn one of their opening three matches. A change of shape and personnel will be inevitable as Liverpool will be without goal-machine Daniel Sturridge who picked up a injury while on England duty. Injuries to Emre Can and Joe Allen will test Rodgers’ squad depth as the Northern Irishman will have to prepare his side for 5 games in about 2 weeks’ time.

3 Key Battles as Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa make the trip to the North-West from the mid-lands:-

Mario Balotelli vs Ron Vlaar:

The Italian striker will be expected to lead the Liverpool attack in the absence of Daniel Sturridge. Mario will certainly not have any easy handouts against Villa as he comes up against one of the most impressive defenders in World Football in th past few months – Ron Vlaar. The Dutchman plays in the heart of the Villa defence and will be tasked with the job to keep Balotelli away from getting near the goal. An exceptionally talented yet sometimes reckless striker Super Mario will square up against the Dutch hard man whose game is based on determination and consistency.

Dejan Lovren vs Gabriel Agbonlahor:

Croatian centre half Dejan Lovren had a pretty poor game against Manchester City. A front-footed, aggressive defender – Lovren doesn’t like players running down his side, much like the Aguero goal at the Etihad. Having recently signed a new contract, Gabby Agbolahor is high on confidence and morale. Pace and power are the attributes that are Agbonlahor’s trade-mark all these years in the Premier League. The 27 year-old 3-time England capped attacker will lead the line while Christian Benteke still finds his way back from injury. An aggressive defender who loves an early tackle against a pacey attacker who loves running down channels – a classic match-up that might go a long way in deciding the fate of this game.

Steven Gerrard vs Ashley Westwood:

A complete mismatch on paper, a decade apart Steven Gerrard vs Ashley Westwood might decide who wins the midfield in the game. The midfield mastermind i.e Steven Gerrard has had a rather unspectacular start to the season. But expect Stevie G to come back refreshed from a short holiday and boss the midfield like he normally does. Young Ashley Westwood, 10 years junior to the former England skipper plays a role of similar importance for Villa in midfield. Spreading the play with quality long-balls and shielding his defence as a deep lying playmaker, Westwood’s vision is key to Aston Villa’s quality on the break.

Match Facts:

  • Steven Gerrard has scored 12 Barclays Premier League goals against Aston Villa; four more than versus any other side.
  • The Villans are unbeaten in three Premier League trips to Anfield, winning once and drawing twice.
  • Indeed, Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has never tasted defeat at Anfield as a Premier League manager, drawing once with Norwich and winning once and drawing once with Villa.
  • Rickie Lambert has scored three goals in four Premier League meetings with Aston Villa.
  • Aston Villa are the only team in the Premier League with more points (7) than shots on target (5).
  • Liverpool’s starting eleven in their 3-0 win at Tottenham last time out was the youngest seen in the Premier League this campaign (24 years, 211 days). It was their youngest starting XI since January 2003.
  • The Reds have taken three more points than any other Premier League side in 2014 (54).
  • Brendan Rodgers’ side have been forced into a league-high four last man tackles.

Facts compiled from uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Possible starting lineups

Liverpool: Mignolet; Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson; Lallana, Balotelli, Sterling

Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Vlaar, Senderos, Cissokho; Cleverley, Sanchez, Delph; Richardson, Weimann, Agbonlahor

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Prediction

A 2-1 win for the home side.

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