Oh, what a difference two victories can make. Not too long ago our beloved Aston Villa were lying in the drop zone, all hope had gone and all optimism had turned to despair and anxiety. Fast forward two games and an international weekend and all hope is restored and the ticket office has not seen sales like this since the days of Messrs. O’Neill and Milner.
Following on from two MASSIVE victories against relegation candidates Reading and QPR, Villa now find themselves seventeenth! Oh, what a joy it is to find ourselves as, according to the league table, only the fourth worst team in the league! But then again, ladies and gentlemen, the premier league table can be a deceiving bugger, even at its best.
Sunderland have come to a halt and injuries to their only source of goals, Steven Fletcher and captain Lee Catermole, have left Mr O’Neill and his black cats ever closer to the trap door. Many people, bookies and pundits included, now tip Sunderland to go down and who would blame them? Without Fletcher’s goals this season, the Mackems would be rock bottom and nine points from safety! NINE POINTS I TELL YOU! However, enough about them and their woes; let’s concentrate on Villa, the weekend’s game and possibly a double over Liverpool…
Reading are the only side that Villa have done the double over this season but Liverpool could join that illustrious group if Paul Lambert can wield yet another victory over Brendan Rodgers like he did at Anfield in December, before it all went wrong. That game is remembered strangely enough for two things. The first being a backheel. Christian Benteke performed the most exquisite of backheels into the path of fellow forward Andreas Weimann and in an instant Villa were 2-0 up. The second thing I remember about that game is that many people stood up and took notice of Villa finally, only for Villa to concede 8 at Stamford Bridge the following week…
Prior to recent results, many, myself included, would have expected Liverpool to turn us over at Villa Park on Easter Sunday. However, fortune favours the brave and the tactics and ideas that Lambert has had ever since day one are finally starting to come good. A crowd of around 41,000 is expected on Sunday and this would signal Villa’s highest attendance of the season. Something must be going right then.
I have full faith that we can now get a result against Liverpool on Sunday and I’m not just talking about a point. Southampton have been a shining light on how to beat the big teams with impressive 3-1 victories over Manchester City and Liverpool themselves. The way to beat them, in my opinion, is to stop the Uruguayan. Hassle Suarez, wind him up, kick him, do whatever has to be done to stop him from having any impact on the game. Whether he causes controversy or not, for me, he is one of the best players in the Premier League and can win a game on his own.
Villa will cause Liverpool problems at the back, just like we did at Anfield in the winter months. Benteke will cause havoc aerially and Weimann and Agbonlahor will use their pace when it comes to attacking from out wide or through the middle. So there we have it, a game plan which should enable us to get a positive result. A win here? Yeah, that should just about do us till the end of the season providing that we pick up a couple more points along the way.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will welcome back a quartet of players but has fitness concerns over two others. Darren Bent (foot), Nathan Baker (head) and Karim El Ahmadi (ankle) are all in contention to face the Reds. Fabian Delph is available after a two game suspension. Ciaran Clark and Brett Holman suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries while on international duty and will be assessed over the weekend.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has no fresh injury worries after the international break as his side look to respond to their previous defeat by Southampton. Defender Jamie Carragher and goalkeeper Jose Reina are both now back in full training and could return to the first XI at Villa. Joe Allen (shoulder), Martin Kelly (knee) and Fabio Borini (shoulder) remain in the treatment room.
Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool with Weimann, Clark and Sturridge the scorers.