3pm, live in the US on espn2 (plz plz HD)
Last 4 head-to-head:
5-0 Liverpool (h) 03.22.09
0-0 (a) 08.31.08
2-2 (h) 01.21.08
2-1 Liverpool (a) 06.11.07
Last two matches:
Liverpool: 4-0 Stoke (h); 1-2 Spurs (a)
Villa: 0-1 Rapid Vienna (a); 0-2 Wigan (h)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Guess at a squad:
Johnson Carragher Ayala Insua
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
Same as Wednesday, please. I doubt we’re at a point in the season where there are any fears over rotation.
The only question seems to be Kyrgiakos or Ayala, as it seems like I jinxed Agger in the last preview given the news he’ll be out for around six weeks. This quote from Benitez when the deal was announced – “He will have the medical this week, it has to be before the weekend" – makes me think that Kyrgiakos will play if possible. I guess it depends if Benitez sees enough in the one, maybe two (doubtful) training sessions before the match. Kyrgiakos did face Carew twice when Greece played Norway in Euro 2008 qualifying, and probably speaks English from his time with Rangers, but that might be stretching it.
Villa’s had two disappointing games to start the campaign, yet to find the target in losses to Wigan and Rapid Vienna (who beat Liverpool 0-1 in a friendly). But the defense should still have more to do than against Stoke. In particular, Johnson will have much less license to bomb forward with Ashley Young on the left. Milner also has the potential to torment on the opposite flank, which will test Insua. Curtis Davies will probably miss out after picking up a shoulder injury on Thursday, meaning Habib Beye should move over from right back.
Villa went with a five-man midfield in Vienna, with Heskey as a lone striker, and I can see the trend continuing. It probably depends on Carew’s fitness, but it makes sense to try and congest the center with Sidwell, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Gardner and Fabian Delph all in the squad, while using the pace of Young and Milner to break. Didn’t seem to work in Vienna, though. Relatedly, I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about Delph, a young English prospect purchased from Leeds.
Liverpool can’t let the 5-0 result in the last match or Villa’s poor run to start the season breed any complacency. It should go without saying, but this will still be a tough match; Villa are no mugs, record be damned. Ideally, the loss at Spurs will continue to light a fire under the team, and if early results are any indication, Liverpool will need all the points they can get.