Preview: Villa v Liverpool - Sunday 31st March, KO 13.30

Posted by Yorkykopite on March 24, 2013, 05:05:11 PM

Villa v Liverpool - Sunday 31st March, KO 13.30

I think we'll get the result here we all wanted at Southampton. But maybe it's too late to affect our European chances.

The important thing, I suppose, will be for the players to maintain their concentration and not to ease up now that there appears to be less to play for. Villa, remember, are in a relegation scrap and will have spent the best part of two weeks aching to get back in the ring after an exhilarating home victory against fellow strugglers QPR.  Villa Park ought to be least until we stick the first one in.

I don't know why I'm so confident. In the home game v Villa I watched in expectation, with the rest of Anfield, as we passed the ball around in their half for the first 20 minutes. Several decent chances slipped by before the Brummies, with virtually their first attack, stole a goal with a speculative Benteke shot before constructing a second of exquisite simplicity. Benteke then helped himself to a second early in the second half and that was that. In some ways it's been the major theme of the season - leaking goals and losing points to teams which, on paper, look blunt or one dimensional in attack. Perhaps the Villa game, more than any other, showcased what many of our supporters believe to be our achilles heel - the soft centre. Outnumbered or outpowered in central midfield, with our centre backs too far away from each other and our full-backs too far up the field, it is argued that we are especially vulnerable to players like Benteke who possess the physical attributes to survive the first challenge and then turn on the ball.

We'll see. I can't imagine Brendan Rodgers will tolerate a repeat of what happened last time when the Liverpool defence appeared to decide it was pointless even putting a challenge in on Benteke.

Who'll play? If we were a normal team then Luis Suarez would be rested for this one. Two big fixtures in South America and then an intercontinental flight would simply rule him out of the starting line up. And maybe Brendan will be tempted by fresher legs (and even by the opportunity to test Coutinho in the centre of the pitch*). But then Suarez is not an ordinary player and the one thing that Liverpool are still competing for is the golden boot for the Uruguayan. Suarez will start (and get that early goal I was talking about). The time to rest him is when the game is put to bed.

That will be some time around the 65 minute mark.

Villa are a young team and playing under enormous pressure before an agitated crowd. Even coming off the triumph over QPR it's clear that they are brittle - they have been all season. Last time we played them Lucas Leiva was not properly match fit. Now he is. Last time we played them Stuart Downing was afraid to touch the ball. Now he seems to have conquered that phobia. We ought to have too much for them. I predict this will be more like Wigan than Southampton. Let's get the three points and see where we stand at the end of the weekend.

*Plus if he did that 'the Liverpool Family' would be convulsed with weeping kiddies convinced that Rodgers was preparing for Luis's summer exit.   

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