Preview: Aston Villa (v) Liverpool – Home win anyone?

Uh oh, it’s officially happened.  The Villa world, including myself, has now become engrossed in pondering every possible permutation of remaining fixtures.  

After a sudden upturn in form, Villa now face a Liverpool team that is far from at it’s best.  Is the seemingly impossible, possible?

If there is to be a great escape, then sides arriving in the shape that Liverpool are to Villa Park is a gift.  Can we take it?  That is the big question.

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All of the signs point to there being at least a reasonable hope that on the day we can give ourselves a real springboard to mount a comeback that until recent weeks had been completely unfathomable.

The form-book makes interesting reading also.

Villa have now risen to 10th, whilst Liverpool have nosedived to 16th.  Perhaps more telling are our recent home results; unbeaten in 4 outings at Villa Park, crucially winning twice.

Liverpool by contrast are on an erratic run, with a manager who for all his extroverted appeal, appears totally lost at sea as he imposes a regime upon a squad of varying quality.  I like Klopp, but I’m not convinced at all that he knows what he’s doing.

This has resulted in the baffling loss of confidence to Christian Benteke, a potent striker at Villa suddenly a widely derided figure at Anfield.  In a mere matter of months, one of the most predatory strikers in Europe has been reduced to ridicule.  Astonishing.

This alone is worth a little examination.

Benteke scored virtually at will in an abject Villa side under Paul Lambert, whilst adopting a style of play that stifled the senses and required the Belgian to create literally everything for himself.  

Under Sherwood, Benteke was unleashed to full effect, demolishing teams on most occasions single handedly with showings of brute force, but also agility and skill.

What on earth have Liverpool done to the man?  At the time he left I wrote that Benteke would simply go from carrying Villa, to carrying Liverpool.  To my surprise, neither Rodgers nor Klopp appear to recognise his attributes in order that he can deliver absolute carnage amongst defences.

Long may it continue Sunday.

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Liverpool arrive at Villa Park with very dubious away form.  Indeed their only win came against Norwich, which given their display at Villa Park is hardly surprisingly.  The fact they conceded 4 times against the Canaries is, truly, remarkable.  Equally inspiring are the collapses against Sunderland and defeats away to Newcastle & Watford.

For Villa there is finally an air of “nothing to lose”.  The Norwich performance wasn’t a classic, but it was an efficient victory where for long periods we were comfortable.  It also marked another game where defensively we held things together.

What we need more of, aside from points, is consistency.

Agbonlahor grew into the Norwich game and became an absolute nuisance for their defence.  His movement and effort was rewarded with a goal.  Gabby has been in for justified heavy criticism this season.  The only way to sway opinion back the other way is with effort and goals that win us games.  Therefore, another big performance is needed immediately, not in ten games time.

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The same applies to others.  Veretout is a quality footballer, but can be prone to drifting in games.  Gana has a nasty habit of doing the scary as much as the sublime.  Gil can dither and ponder, rather than play the killer ball immediately.  I could go on.

This is not a perfect Villa side, it has obvious limitations, but it does have players amongst it who when all on their game tick quite nicely.  Veretout the range of passing, Gana all the running in the world & Gil possesses vision quite unlike anything else at Villa Park.

We absolutely must harness our strong points, punish Liverpool’s frailties and firmly deliver the cat amongst the pigeons with a roaring home win.  Nothing less will suffice.

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