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Aston Villa

26 September, 2015; 15.00 BST

Anfield, Liverpool


Team News & Tactics


All the scrutiny is around Brendan Rodgers at the moment but Liverpool need to put all that in the background and approach with a must-win attitude for more than one reason. The atmosphere regarding everything Liverpool is extremely toxic at the moment a fans have been booing at the end of three consecutive matches, the famous Anfield atmosphere has become a myth and fans worldwide have been rooting for losses just to see the back of the Northern Irishman which is obviously not healthy.

Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino have become latest injury victims in addition to Jordan Henderson, who will be major misses. Christian Benteke will also not be fit to face his former club after his big money move this summer. Jon Flanagan is not back and will be the fourth absentee.

What formation Rodgers fields for this game remains a mystery. It makes sense for him to play two strikers and the form of Danny Ings makes him almost indispensable at the moment. The former Burnley man has scored two goals in two games and is slowly becoming a Kop favorite. However he may use Daniel Sturridge as a substitute, as someone who as someone who brings life in the second half. Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana will be fielded behind Danny Ings in the all likelihood. The midfield will comprise of James Milner and Lucas Leiva with Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno as the wingbacks. Emre Can, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho will comprise the backline for Liverpool. Of course, this is in case Rodgers goes with the same method he has operated in the last two games.

Rodgers and Liverpool will need an early goal and another one to ensure the game goes Liverpool ways. This will be an uphill task given the last few performances and results but the former Swansea boss knows anything but a win will only bring him closer to a sack.

Probable Line-up (3-4-1-2): Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Sakho; Clyne, Lucas, Milner, Moreno; Coutinho; Sturridge, Ings

Aston Villa

Aston Villa spent heavily this summer and more was expected from them than they have delivered thus far. Only Jordan Amavi from the Ligue 1 recruits as delivered. Even though they beat Birmingham City to reach the fourth round of the League Cup their form in the league has been underwhelming to say the least and the former Spurs boss needs to deliver, if not as quickly as Rodgers then definitely in the need to make sure it doesn’t reach the do-or-die stage his counterpart finds himself in. The club has four points from six games which is a worrying sign and Sherwood needs to make sure it doesn’t reach a worrying stage for the club.

However, Sherwood and co will arrive in this game with much confidence. They know that their opponents are devoid of any morale and confidence. Anfield too is not remotely close to a fortress anymore and Villaa s recent results at the Merseyside club have also been favorable. History too is in their favor as Liverpool haven’t won any of the last eight league fixtures between these clubs since Aston Villa beat Liverpool 1-0 at Villa Park in 2011 and Villa are unbeaten in their last four matches at Anfield (the visitors have lost just two of their last eight games at the ground). Three points at Anfield will not be an uphill task as a result.

Sherwood has a major worry with Joleon Lescott coming off at half time against Birmingham in midweek, and Ciaran Clark could partner Micah Richards. Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gueye is now back in full training after a hamstring problem and could feature in this game. Exciting starlet Adama Traore could return from an ankle niggle. Gabby Agbonlahor however, is a major doubt after suffering a calf injury against Birmingham City.

Liverpool have hardly been scoring goals and just parking the bus and hitting the Reds on a counterattack might be a perfect strategy. That has worked for many teams including West Ham this season.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Guzan, Hutton, Richards, Clark, Amavi, Westwood, Grealish, Veretout, Ayew, Sinclair, Gestede

Key stats

  • Liverpool could go five league games without a win for the first time since doing so in Brendan Rodgers’ first five games in charge in 2012.
  • Only Newcastle have scored fewer top-flight goals than Liverpool’s four this season. That tally equals Liverpool’s lowest after six matches of a top-flight campaign, set in 1899-1900 and 2005-06.
  • Liverpool have hit the woodwork five times this season – more than any other side in the Premier League.
  • No side has lost more Premier League games in 2015 than Aston Villa (16 – level with Newcastle).
  • Villa are winless in five league games for the first time under Tim Sherwood.
Youngster Jack Grealish has been a phenomenon recently and will be expected to deliver on this big occasion

Youngster Jack Grealish has been a phenomenon recently and will be expected to deliver on this big occasion

Player to look out for

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

The player has been in phenomenal form recently and seems like Villa’s X factor. Grealish will play with a lot of confidence as well now that two countries are fighting for him. England boss Roy Hodgson has made enquiries about including the Ireland U-21 player for the Euro 2016 qualifiers with Estonia and Lithuania. He could cause the likes of Skrtel and Lucas a lot of trouble with his clever movement and trickeries.

Final prediction

Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 2

Don’t expect Brendan Rodgers to be put out of his misery any time soon. Villa have a phenomenal record at Anfield and Liverpool can’t seem to hit the back of the net. They are also heavily depleted at the moment. Expect another disappointing outing for the home side.

Blast from the past