Liverpool put in a clinical second half performance to win 5-3 away to Stoke last weekend and have won six of their last eight Premier League matches, the other two being the 2-1 losses away to Manchester City and Chelsea. In those six, they have scored at least two goals, but have only kept two clean sheets. Liverpool have won their last seven home games and Luis Suarez is far and away the leading scorer with 22 goals so far.
While Aston Villa may have lost to Arsenal at home, the 2-1 loss had several positives to take away from it, with Villa getting themselves into the game it in the second half. There were certainly portions of the second half in which Aston Villa looked good, but they just couldn’t break down a solid Arsenal defense. This season Aston Villa have reverted to playing a mostly 3-5-2 that becomes a 5-4-1 on defense and relies on “hit and hope.” They have scored 20 goals this season with Christian Benteke’s goal against Arsenal being his fifth this season.
What to expect
Aston Villa will be glad to be back on the road but face a Liverpool side that have won their last 7 league matches at home, with 15 of Suarez’s 22 goals coming at Anfield. The form of either side’s main striker will be key to their respective aims between now and the end of the season, with Benteke scoring 3 goals in 3 appearances against Liverpool thus far.
Daniel Sturrdige looked in fine form on his return to action from the bench last time out, so he could take the place of Philippe Coutinho, the man he replaced at Stoke. Liverpool have looked leaky at the back but with Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan all set to continue to miss out through injury Brendan Rodgers’ option are limited. However, if Mamadou Sakho returns to fitness, then he is likely to replace Kolo Toure.
Christian Benteke scored for the first time since September on Monday night and will hope to put in the type of performance that saw him net a brace in his last appearance at Anfield. Paul Lambert signed Grant Holt on loan to act as cover for Libor Kozak who is out for the rest of the season and he could be in the squad this weekend. Villa should revert to a back four as Nathan Baker suffered a mild concussion against Arsenal and is a doubt; Leandro Bacuna will replace Karim El Ahmadi in midfield.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
With Daniel Sturridge back in the side the Reds have too much firepower for Villa to keep them at bay, but Paul Lambert’s side will be threatening on the counter attack.
Liverpool 4-1 Aston Villa