Premier League – Liverpool v Aston Villa Preview
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is calling for unity at the club following another disastrous display at Newcastle but a return of just eight points from a possible 36 since the turn of the year must have the Scot wondering if the club’s board have the same message in mind.
A sixth defeat in seven league games at the Sports Direct Arena has left the reds a massive 16 points off the Champions League places, though they will be in the Europa League next season having already won the Carling Cup. An FA Cup semi-final against Merseyside rivals Everton also looms large on the horizon but it’s their league form that has left supporters bewildered and there probably won’t want to be many taking short odds that Liverpool’s miserable run will end at home to Aston Villa this weekend.
Villa, of course, have problems of their own. Despite a plucky performance against Chelsea last week, Alex McLeish’s team still ended up pointless and have been left looking anxiously over their shoulder with the sides below them in the table starting to pick up vital wins. The Villa players have also had to contend with the news that captain Stiliyan Petrov is battling leukaemia and it’s going to be a very uncomfortable last few weeks of the season for a side that really should have enough quality to ensure they don’t get dragged into a relegation dogfight. Villa’s squad really is looking paper-thin at the moment, with Alan Hutton, Richard Dunne, Marcus Bent and Charles N’Zogbia all long-term absentees and they need youngsters like Marc Albrighton and Chris Herd to step up to the plate. Only one win in nine outlines their problems, however, and they have a tricky set of fixtures this month.
Liverpool have already won at Villa Park this season and it’s doubtful the Kop will tolerate another sub-standard performance at Anfield so they are taken to complete the double at 4/11, though don’t expect a cricket score. A 2-0 correct score is 11/2.