Premier League action returns to Anfield after a 3 week hiatus as Liverpool try to build on their brilliant performance against Spurs. Aston Villa are the team heading up the M6 from the Midlands for the 17:30 kick off live on Sky Sports. Liverpool will be without main man up front Daniel Sturridge, who once again fell foul to the Hodgson’s England training regime. Time for Balotelli to shine? Lallana? Even Borini? And what about that defence? One thing for sure is that this ride is only just beginning and shows no signs of slowing down, games are coming thick and fast with as many a 5 games in a 14 day period.
Head to Head
Liverpool’s record against Aston Villa hasn’t been great in recent times; you have to go back to 2010/2011 under Roy Hodgson to find Liverpool’s last Anfield victory over Saturday’s opponents, a 3-0 win with David Ngog, Ryan Babel and Maxi Rodriguez getting on the score sheet. Steven Gerrard will also be looking to get a goal to take his tally to 13 goals against Aston Villa; the Liverpool Captain currently has 12 goals, which is 4 more than he has scored against any other club.
Liverpool: As mentioned earlier Daniel Sturridge was Hodge’d over the international break and faces up to 3 weeks on the sidelines. Other Liverpool players on the treatment table include Glen Johnson (return not known), Martin Skrtel (1/2 weeks), Emre Can (6 weeks) whilst there are late fitness tests for Joe Allen and Jon Flanagan. Good news for Liverpool fans is that summer signing Adam Lallana has returned to training and could well make his debut on Saturday, whether it’ll be from the start or off the bench is still to be seen.
Aston Villa: Cristian Benteke is the obvious missing link for Aston Villa’s trip to Anfield, the Belgian forward has scored 4 goals in his last 5 meetings with Liverpool, most memorably in 11/12 when he stunned Anfield with 2 goals in a 3-1 victory for the Villains. Ron Vlaar faces a late fitness test but is likely to start; a big loss if he doesn’t make it. Villa’s only other real injury concern is Libor Kosak who is still out following a broken leg.
Big call for Rodgers, does he stick with the diamond? Or does he revert back to the 4-3-3 and leave Balotelli as the lone striker with Markovic and Sterling either side. For me I’d like to see Sterling pushed further forward and Lallana or Coutinho coming in at the tip of the diamond.
Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Balotelli.
(If Allen isn’t fit, Coutinho in there and Lallana in the 10, depending on his fitness.)
Villa have been unchanged in their first 3 games of the Premier League season and I can’t see that changing at Anfield, unless Benteke makes a quick recovery or Vlaar is out through injury.
Guzan, Cissokho, Hutton, Senderos, Vlaar, Delph, Westwood, Weimann, Richardson, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor.
Jordan Henderson vs Fabian Delph
This week’s stats head to head will be between the potential future of England’s midfield. Henderson has already began to make a name for himself in the England side and Delph’s recent call up could be the start of a new era for English football but how do they match up? If you’ve listened to any of the main AI podcasts, you will have heard AI overlord Gags with his ground-breaking pressing stats, and if you haven’t why not? Jordan Henderson consistently comes out on top with these pressing stats.
Both players have been ever present for their respected sides so far this season playing 270 minutes. Although this is a small sample size and we’ll take a look back at their 13/14 stats next. Back to this season and Jordan Henderson has wiped the floor with Delph so far, Jordan Henderson has a pass completion of 85%, has created 1.33 chances, won 2.33 tackles, made 2 interceptions and has a 50% duel success rate per 90 minutes. Delph only better these stats in one variant with a 61.76% duel succession rate.
Over the course of a full season these stats are very different. Henderson played 3128 minutes in 35 games last season compared to Delph’s 3003 minutes in 34 games. Henderson only comes out on top in 2 of the 5 variants, which are a pass completion of 87% compared to 84% and 1.78 chances created per 90, whereas Delph only managed 0.84. However, Delph won more tackles with 2.28 per 90 compared to Henderson’s 1.7 per 90, this could be due to Liverpool dominating more games than Aston Villa during the course of the season, meaning fewer tackles would be made on the whole. Delph’s 56.93% duel success rate beats Hendersons 40.26% and Delph made 1.74 interceptions per 90 compared to Hendersons 0.98.
Liverpool will be hoping to break the Villa curse whilst building on the 3-0 win over Spurs. If the back 4 remains how it was, I’d hope for another clean sheet and another 3-0 win for the Reds.