10am. Available in the US on Fox Soccer Channel.
Liverpool: 11th place; 11 points out of 9 games
Aston Villa: 7th place; 15 points out of 9 games
Last 4 meetings:
3-1 Liverpool (h) April 29 2006
2-0 Liverpool (a) November 5 2005
2-1 Liverpool (h) May 15 2005
1-1 (a) December 4 2004
Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 4-3 Reading (h); 0-2 Man United (a); 1-0 Bordeaux (a)
Aston Villa: 3-2 aet Leicester (a); 1-1 Fulham (h); 1-1 Tottenham (h)
Goals Leaders (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 2; Agger, Alonso, Bellamy, Crouch, Fowler, Gonzalez, Riise 1
Aston Villa: Barry 3; Agbonlahor, Angel, Moore 2; Mellberg, Ridgewell 1
Referee: Steve Bennett
The squad I’d like to see:
Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Warnock
Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Riise
Tougher than usual to predict the front line. The official site has been promoting a couple of features with Kuyt, a “big interview” and an article where he speaks about how happy his father is coming to Anfield this Saturday. This would lead me to believe he’s got a role to play in the game, but the BBC is claiming that he’ll miss out due to calf injury, which I hadn’t heard until today. As Bellamy is also out, this would leave Crouch and Fowler to reprise their pairing from Wednesday. It’d be nice to see Robbie get an extended run, because despite his age and fitness, he’ll always be able to find the back of the net, which is exactly what Liverpool needs at the moment, but you have to think he’ll continue to be 4th choice striker.
Think we’ll see Warnock and Riise on the left flank. Liverpool must defend better down the left to prevent Agbonlahor from doing damage. Not only is he capable of running rampant, but the left side has been particularly vulnerable when Gonzalez or Aurelio has been paired with Riise. I think Warnock is a better defensive option, and Riise has played well offensively as of late from the LM position.
Once again, I’m sure there will be questions as to where Gerrard lines up, but I think he’ll stay on the right. The pairing of Alonso and Sissoko seems to be Rafa’s first choice; Liverpool needs the creativity and passing of Alonso, and, as many others have said, we saw Liverpool’s defensive frailties on Wednesday after Sissoko was subbed out. It’s almost a shame that Gerrard is so malleable that he’s forced out of his preferred position, but it’s reassuring to see all the quotes in the news this week about how he’ll play any position for the team, and it’s obvious this is how the manager prefers it. Hopefully, this means they’ll be less sulking and shouting at teammates than there was against Manchester United.
Liverpool will have to start brightly on Saturday. After some of the recent performances, I just want to see them come out looking to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and imposing themselves on the other team. Villa has been playing well as of late, and while they haven’t had the best of luck at Anfield in the past, the longer the game goes scoreless, the more they’ll grow in confidence, and the harder it will be to break them down.
Maybe the hysterics over the turncoat board member will spark something in the team, and Liverpool will come out with a point to prove, because this bad spell isn’t going away until every player starts playing better.