September 13 2014; 17:30 GMT
Liverpool host Aston Villa at Anfield tonight as they look follow-up a wonderful performance against Tottenham Hotspur, before the international break, and with a win over Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s team has made a flying start to the campaign with two wins and a draw in their opening three fixtures. Brendan Rodgers’ men will have to be at their best to beat Villa tonight.
Team news and tactics
Liverpool enter this game counting the cost of injuries that had taken place during the just concluded international break. According to manager Brendan Rodgers, Daniel Sturridge got injured on what was a supposed to be a recovery day. Emre Can and Joe Allen both sustained injuries during victories for Germany (U21) and Wales respectively. On the other hand, Mario Balotelli was sidelined from training with illness and is also a doubtful starter. Summer signing Adam Lallana is in line for his competitive debut after recovering from a pre-season knee injury but defenders Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan are all out.
Rodgers is likely to send out a 4-3-3 thanks to the inury to Daniel Sturridge; and will be tempted to give a Lazar Markovic a start. Liverpool are likely to continue lining up with Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho at the centre of defence. The two of them looked shaky at times but contributed to a much needed clean sheet for Simon Mignolet and Liverpool. Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel are still out due to injury, and so the back four that started against Spurs will line up again.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Simon Mignolet; Javier Manquillo, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno; Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson; Raheem Sterling, Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli
Aston Villa go into this fixture arguably more fresh than their Merseyside hosts, thanks to the fact that a large portion of their squad was not called up by their countries for internationals. Manager Paul Lambert could give on-loan Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley his debut in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash. This fixture also sees the return of Aly Cissokho for the first time after his stint on loan at Liverpool in the 2013-14 season.
Aston Villa ran Liverpool ragged in the first half the last time they visited Anfield, and two of the three men who started up front in January will be there at Anfield on Saturday. Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor possess enough pace to trouble the Liverpool backline, and despite the absence of Christian Benteke due to injury, they could fancy getting a goal or two.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Brad Guzan; Aly Cissokho, Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos, Alan Hutton; Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverly; Andreas Weimann, Charles N’Zogbia, Andreas Weimann
Andreas Weimann has either scored (two) or assisted (one) all of Aston Villa’s league goals this season.
Aston Villa are the only team in the Premier League with more points (7) than shots on target.
The Reds have taken three more points than any other Premier League side in 2014 (54)
Player to Watch
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Aston Villa are a more dangerous team away from home than at home, mainly due to their prowess on the counter. Given that Steven Gerrard will sit in front of the defence despite the horror show he put on the last time Villa visited Anfield, it will be critical for Dejan Lovren to sweep away any form of danger that exists in and around Liverpool’s own 18 yard box.
Lovren has spent most of his career at the left side of defence; but will occupy the right side of defence thanks to the absence of Martin Skrtel due to injury. The Croatian is without doubt a good defender; but will need to adjust to his ‘new’ position if Liverpool were to harbour hopes of keeping a clean sheet.
Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa
Liverpool are back at Anfield after a month; but this time with an injury crisis that literally arose from no fault of their own. Thanks to their buying spree in the summer, they still have enough by way of numbers to call upon for the visit of Aston Villa, and will possess enough quality to get the job done and get the required three points.