Liverpool v Aston Villa - Match Preview

Last updated : 16 January 2014 By Kurt Ellis

Happy belated New Year to all members of my Red family worldwide. I have not had the chance to do a preview for a few weeks as a result of personal commitments and the pace at which the games were coming, but now that the hectic festive period has ended, you will be hearing a lot more from me.

Our last match against Stoke was a match that had me sweating from celebrating, and my throat hoarse from cursing. From throwing away a 2-0 lead, to regaining it, to almost throwing it away again. The match against Stoke told me two things. The first, we have attacking talent that means we can basically score at will. The second, our defence sucks. And that is the tricky part, because I believe we have defenders in our team that can rival any of the top defenders in the EPL. Skrtel, Toure, Agger and Sakho, who has been immense since he arrived. Plus, I am a fan of both Coates and Ilori and think they are two young centre backs we must keep a hold of and nurture for the future. I think we got the talent, no doubt about that. But we don’t have the aggression and speed of thought. All three goals against Stoke were as a result of slow reading of the game in my opinion. I mean, for the love of Anfield, Charlie Adam played for Liverpool! They saw him in training every day. They should know that Adam has a shot on him that can punish any team from a distance, yet, they allowed him to get back to his feet, take two touches and then have crack at goal. We are missing a character of the likes of Jamie Carragher at the back. Someone who can put a flame under the backside of those around him. Man City have it in Kompany. Chelsea have Terry and Man United have Vidic. Even Mertesacker has been filling the role for Arsenal. That is what we need.

I have also been preaching for the last 18 months now that Right Back is the problem position, not Left Back. Glen Johnson has been terribly poor and inconsistent over the last season and a half. I believe Rodgers should drop him and give young Flanagan a run on his preferred side.

So how do we beat them?

Strangely, Villa have a much better away record than they do a home record. This would normally be something to consider, however our home record is more impressive. We have won 9 of our 10 home matches this season scoring 27 goals and conceding only 6. Aston Villa have won 4 of their 10 away games this season, so although the away form is better than their home form, it does not inspire fear. I failed to watch the second half of Villa v Arsenal, so I cannot honestly comment on the entire match. But what I saw in those first 45 minutes tells me we can turn this match into a goal feast. I would be disappointed with anything less than a three goal win. However, I would be more happy with a one – nil win as we would have kept a clean sheet. Christian Benteke broke his scoring duck against Arsenal, but from what I saw in the first half, he is a shadow of the player he was last season. A clean sheet is a must.

My starting eleven would be Mignolet, Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel, Cissokho, Lucas, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez. Just typing those lost five names gave me goosebumps. Our attacking talent is awesome. A final word though. Am I the only one getting extremely annoyed by the constant criticism of Martin Skrtel and the holding that takes place in the box. Personally, I think it is a penalty every time and as a former defender myself, it is something I never did. But, every defender in the premier league is doing. The entire Stoke team have man handled and bullied players in the past, but where was the condemnation of that? Skrtel needs to stop it, that is for certain, but can the same attention be given to other defenders. I mean, Shawcross can hardly be considered a shrinking violet, can he. And as for Jim Beglin and his biased commentary…

And our competitors…

Arsenal host Fulham this weekend. Perhaps there would be some fire in the gut of the Cottagers as this is a London derby…but I doubt it. Fulham is the worst team in the premier league this season and should be properly thrashed by the Wenger boys. Cardiff travel to Man City, and they too should be quickly dispatched by the Mancs. Tottenham may find their trip to Swansea a bit testing. I feel there is a chance of them leaving with nothing in this game. Bony has been excellent over the last few weeks. Our Blue brothers travel to the Hawthorns and I believe will leave with the three points. Some of the decisions of West Brom just make no sense to me. First, they sack Steve Clark who well there, then they are in the process of selling Shane Long, their only quality striker who is not a geriatric. But the biggest game this weekend has to be Chelsea hosting Man United. As I type this, I want Man United to win, (in the interest of Liverpool) but I’m sure when the game starts, my support will change back and forth like a metronome. In the end, lets just hope Liverpool are the big winners in this match.

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