Spyin' Kop: Aston Villa vs. Liverpool 18/12/2011

Posted by AnyGivenSunday on December 17, 2011, 12:38:10 PM

Sunday 18 December 2011

Villa Park

KO: 14.05


Looking to build on their 1-0 win over QPR, the Reds head into the Festive period with a visit to Villa Park to take on Alex McLeish's Aston Villa.
Villa won last season's corresponding fixture 1-0 thanks to a goal from our (now) very own Stewart Downing.

Many thanks to those who took the time to answer the questions.  Specifically, thanks to John C who was also a contributor to the 2006 Spyin’ Kop edition.  Thanks also to Liam W, a mate of mine, and to Loyal Villan and The Benedictine Monk from avillafan.com.  Just to avoid confusion with some of the answers, The Benedictine Monk is a Celtic supporter but has a soft spot for Villa.

So, on to the questions...

1. With the half-way mark of the season just around the corner, how do you feel Villa’s season has gone so far?
JC: Another season of upheaval, I'm afraid. The disappointment and anger of the summer has sadly moved on to apathy for many. The win last week against Bolton was vital because we've drawn too many games. I expected it to be much worse than it has been, but it could have been much better. The standard of football that's been on display has at times been terrible - and that's the main worry I think. Your very own John Barnes said "You can play that type of football at Birmingham City, but not at Aston Villa". Whilst it sounds a bit arrogant, it's spot on. But I would say that.

LW: Massively disappointing. No willingness from the manager to attack. We are already settling for mid-table. Any improvements from the O’Neill/Houllier regimes have disappeared. Our midfield from a few years ago are now playing for teams in the top 6 and it is becoming very clear that we are now a selling club.

LV: Aston Villa’s season has gone pretty much as expected for me, a difficult time after losing 2 of our best players in the summers has had an effect on our performances, we are in transition and also need to address our finances as the wage bill under MON got well out of hand. We need to develop our young players who will pay dividends in the long run and save us a fortune!!

TBM: What I’ve seen so far I’m not impressed.

2. Do you think Alex McLeish has done a good job?  Did you think he was the right man for the job when he was appointed?  And has your opinion on him changed since?
JC: No. No and No. The football is awful, his signings have not worked and he has failed to be accepted by the Villa fans. Crowds are down massively and the players don't seem to be approving of his methods. He's also been true to form and our ace sparkly £20m striker is now struggling to score goals because of the way we play. The appointment made no sense, and quite frankly him accepting the job and believing he would be given the time to do anything half decent is as ridiculous as Lerner's belief that McLeish was a match with Aston Villa. Would you have accepted Gary Neville being appointed as manager? At least he's not been relegated twice, I suppose....

LW: McLeish has been poor on all fronts. Bad purchases, N’Zogbia and Hutton can’t hold a candle to the players they replaced. Ultra defensive, defeatist tactics with a bizarre selection process, playing N’Zogbia out of position and Heskey on the wing. I thought that under Houllier we were starting to play some good football but this has all disappeared under McLeish. In Bent we have a goal machine and it is worrying that he is being given such poor service and I could see him leaving for pastures new in January to help secure his England space. The most worrying aspect of McLeish’s rule is his unwillingness to develop the youth set up at Villa. Freezing out the incredible talent Bannan and playing Heskey over Albrighton.

LV: McLiesh’s appointment as manager was a bitter pill to swallow and I was dead against it, but once confirmed as our manager he had my full support! I really do think that he will come good for us but he has joined Villa at a difficult time.  He has instilled some much needed team spirit back into the squad, something we had for many years but Gerrard Houllier managed to destroy in one season!!

TBM: Ask me after January.

3. Who have been the key players for Villa this season that we should be looking out for on Sunday?
JC: Erm. Now that's a tricky one. Shay Given has made a few point saving performances. But he's injured. Our defence is still dodgy, with added recklessness now with Alan Hutton. Barry Bannan has been a ray of light but he's a little too creative for McLeish to play every game. Agbonlahor was also looking bright but he's suspended thanks to a yellow card given to him for having a ball kicked at him.

LW: Given, but he wont’t be playing, Agbonlahor, but he won’t playing. Bent is always going to be a threat.

LV: Gabby has been a revelation this season and normally i would say him but he is suspended for the game so I will tip Marc Albrighton to be a key player for us against your lot, this kid can be lethal when on form and he seems to have found his mojo again.

TBM: Stan the Man.

4. Have there been any poor players this season?  Anyone you’d like to get shot of?
JC: The manager. Richard Dunne, Alan Hutton, Emile Heskey, Stephen Ireland and Habib Beye all could go for a start. That's the crux of Villa's problem at the moment - overpaid players not performing well enough, and haven't for two years now. But who in their right mind would buy Stephen Ireland on £75,000 a week? That's why we had to sell the decent ones...

LW: I have never been a fan of James Collins. He has very bad tunnel vision and was obviously never taught proper positioning. Expect him to leave his man in the penalty box to throw himself in the line of the ball. Heskey... I don’t think I have to justify that one.

LV: Stephen Ireland is without a doubt a player who i would happily see leave the Villa, in fact I would organise a parade and party if and when he leaves, a player who has some talent but his attitude is poor and his application is worse!! Total waste of space! Also Habib Beye.

TBM: Heskey, Beye, Hutton.

5. What’s your opinion on Liverpool’s season?  How well do you think Kenny has done?
JC: Considering the money spent, I think you could have been expecting a better return. I've been to Anfield a couple of times this season and despite the investment in wingers and the big man up front the play doesn't really seem to be going down that route enough to take advantage of it. With Man City and Spurs having taken the steps forward they have it's always going to be difficult, but I can't see you getting that fourth place, Sorry. If it's any consolation I'm almost always wrong with predictions.

LW: Must be classed as a disappointment. Spent 100 mill and haven’t really pushed forward. Carroll was a much overpriced mistake, yet the media don’t repeatedly show images of him messing up like they do with Torres... media bias? Suarez looks good but how long will he be at the club?  It must be worrying for Liverpool, and by extension Villa, to see that teams that were once similar in stature are now streets ahead.  And also it’s ‘Dalglish’ no one outside of Liverpool fans particularly gives two hoots about ‘Kenny’.

LV: I think he did well when he first arrived but i am surprised that you are not doing better than you are considering the massive investment he has put into the team, Andy Carroll was a ridiculous buy at a stupid price and was plainly a panic buy that has not come off. I think the King Kenny effect has worn off somewhat and now he needs to use his experience and guile to move you forward... I really don’t think that you will be any great shakes under Dalglish.

TBM: I think LFC have been too inconsistent especially with the money spent. King Kenny's a fans hero & a legend so it’s still the honeymoon period. Imo he's done okay so far, though I’m baffled by the signing of Adam & the 35m spent on Carroll but you's won a watch signing Suarez he's a class player.

6. Stewart Downing returns to face his former club on Sunday.  First of all, what were your feelings towards the transfer in the summer?  Is he likely to get a good reception from the home fans?
JC: I was disappointed he left, which when compared with how others felt, is understating the mood towards Mr Downing. He ended the season saying he wanted to stay at Villa, and then is suddenly desperate to leave the club. Him getting photographed with the Liverpool scarf whilst still a Villa player on holiday was completely and utterly unprofessional and he'll have the Villa crowd on his back.

LW: Probably not but does any returning player get a good reception these days? I think it would have been good business on Villa’s behalf if Lerner had reinvested rather than pocketing the 16 mill.

LV: Downing will get a worse reception than any other recently departed Villa player. He lied to us and then forced through a move to Liverpool after "that" photograph with Carroll while on holiday. My main gripe is that he only produced the goods in his final season with us after Villa buying him injured and sticking with him while he was playing crap in his first half season with us. He also stated 3 months before his transfer that he owed us a debt of gratitude for sticking with him and would stay at Villa even if we were relegated!! Then as soon as the Pool come knocking he hands in a transfer request!! But saying that I really do think we mugged you on the price!!

TBM: I very much doubt he'll get a good reception, but to be honest can you blame Villa fans?

7. And how do you think Downing has performed for Liverpool?
JC: Small fish in a big pond. Out of his depth, and half the player he was with us last year. And dare I say a number of Villa fans are pleased with that.

LW: Anonymous. Forgot he was playing for you.

LV: Hit and miss so far. I think he is a good player but does go missing in games sometimes. Don’t want to talk about him any more as I really despise him now.

TBM: He's a good player but I haven’t seen much of him for you to be honest.

8. The last January transfer window was quite an eventful one for both our clubs.  Are you expecting Villa to be active in the window?
JC: This morning (Wednesday) we were both linked with David Villa. That's the first time I've laughed out loud about Villa for a long time. I expect if we can move some of the big earners away we will but can't see us signing anyone half decent. The money just isn't there.

LW: Hopefully not. Looking at McLeish’s record in the transfer market we do not want to be saddled with more talentless luddites.

LV: I don’t expect either Liverpool or Villa to be very active at all in the window. Maybe a couple of signings for both clubs but nothing too spectacular to be honest, we really don’t have the money to splash around at the moment.

TBM: hmm... I don’t think there’ll be any major signing unless players are sold.

9. Where do you think both teams will finish come the end of the season?  Would that be an under/over achievement, or about right?
JC: Liverpool? 6th. Which I'd have thought you'd be disappointed with. Villa? 14th/15th at best. I think over the course of 38 games you end up where you deserve to be.

LW: Liverpool 6th, some way ahead of 7th. Villa, there isn’t much difference between 8th to 15th so we will fill in somewhere there, it doesn’t really matter.

LV: Liverpool will be around 5th to 7th and Villa 7th to 9th. For Villa I think this would be acceptable considering the turmoil the club has been through in the last 18 months or so. Liverpool and your fans need CL football to re-establish yourselves as a real force in the EPL and Europe, something I don’t think you will manage to get for at least another few seasons.

TBM: LFC 5-6th place & villa 12-13th.

10. Do you have any particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?
JC: 1992 - Deano's debut, (and of course I'm sure you look back at it fondly as Torben Piechnik's debut), a 4-2 win for us and of course THAT Rozenthal miss... Last season at Villa Park was pretty good - not because we won - but because most people weren't bothered by the game and just wanted to know how Birmingham were getting on in the hope they were going down.

LW: I don’t particularly like remembering the 5-0 at Anfield.

LV: When Houllier brought Villa to Anfield last season and you beat us, he spent more time signing autographs and gushing to the Liverpool fans during, before and after the game and barely gave the travelling Villa fans the time of day!! That really upset me and the Villa faithful.

TBM: No, can only mention when my team Celtic played LFC in friendlies & European games & showed you's how to sing YNWA at Celtic park ;-)

11. Luis Suarez seems to be a divisive figure among opposition supporters and the press.  What’s your opinion of him?
JC: A very talented player for sure, but he doesn't help himself, does he? We had Ashley Young - so I know what it's like to have a player who has skill on the ball and gets caught by defenders rather often. But at the same time, like Young, Suarez does go down rather easily at times. Too easily. His temper isn't much of an attractive trait either, and his behaviour at the World Cup also puts a mark against his name. So, in short bit of a prat. But would I have him in the Villa team? Too right.

LW: Good player, but a very nasty piece of work. Cheats repeatedly and probably overstepped the mark in winding up Evra. If he goes down for it I would be very worried if I was a Liverpool fan.

LV: At times this guy is unplayable, a real quality player who is always a threat. But his temperament has now been called into question after some recent incidents which have been in the press. If Dalglish can tame this side of him, he will be a massive player for you.

TBM: Great player who I knew of from his time at Ajax. No offence, but I would have liked to have seen him go to La Liga where he would flourish more as a player & I see LFC have copied our ‘I just can’t get enough’ song for Suarez lol.

12. What do you expect the Villa team will be on Sunday?
JC: It could go two ways - we could stick with the wingers or McLeish could revert back to type and go for the defensive nonsense. I expect he'll go for something in-between - 4-5-1 with Guzan, Warnock, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Albrighton, Delph, Herd, Petrov, Heskey (on the wing for goodness sake!) and Bent.

LW: I would like to think that we would take the game to you, but alas that won’t happen. See the line-up against Tottenham... 6 defenders! Boring, boring Aston Villa.

LV: Pretty much the same that played against Bolton but with maybe Defounso or Weinmann playing instead of Gabby.

TBM: Dunno.

13. Finally, what’s your score prediction for the match?

JC: 0-3 Liverpool. We just aren't very good at the moment. (Sorry to any Villa fans reading this).

LW: 0-1, although we may get lucky with a deflection and nick a point. The worrying thing is that McLeish would probably be happy with a 0-1 defeat.

LV: 1-1 or 2-2, but I have not given up hope of a win!! We might not be pulling up any trees this season but on the whole we are difficult to beat, especially at Villa Park.

TBM: 1-1 draw me thinks.

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