Villa away, Sunday 31st March, 1330 UK

LOCAL NEWS
BAHRAIN – congratulations to Bahrain LFC who had their first meeting with apparently 70 people attending! If they continue like this, they could end up bigger than the Dubai Reds…
MUSCAT – Mohd Shaikh, aka Raziq, will be leaving Oman for Malaysia, so this will be his last game in the Habana. Raziq found us on Facebook when Standard Chartered launched the Anfield lounge in the Hyatt. Since then he has been one of the most active Reds in Oman. Even though I have not lived in Oman since we met, I will miss his contributions! (Especially if he doesn’t give us his new contact details!)
QATAR – 8 LFC fans (1 from Qatar, 4 from Oman, 3 from Bahrain) have been selected for the 5 a side team to play against 30 other international fan clubs at LFC, on the Anfield pitch! There is also a reserve list in case anyone pulls out, so you can put your name down for that…but be warned! You need to look at your emails regularly and answer emails accurately and promptly.
MATCH PREVIEW
Liverpool travel to Villa Park hoping to prevent Paul Lambert’s relegation strugglers from completing a first league ‘double’ over us since the 1992/93 campaign, when they recorded a 4-2 win at Villa Park and a 2-1 victory at Anfield over Graeme Souness’ Reds. The corresponding fixture last season saw Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel secure a 2-0 victory for Liverpool at Villa Park, but Villa won the reverse fixture this season at Anfield 3-1 back in December thanks to goals from Christian Benteke (2) and Andreas Weimann.
Since that surprise victory for Paul Lambert’s side, Aston Villa have won just three of the 12 Premier League games played – with all three victories coming in their last four league games – and they currently sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone. Aston Villa’s record at Villa Park this season goes some way to explaining why they face the very real threat of relegation for the first time since 1986/87. Their tally of four wins from 15 home games is the joint third lowest in the divisions, while only Wigan Athletic with eight defeats have lost more games at home than Villa’s total of seven. Only bottom side Queens Park Rangers have scored fewer goals at home (11) than Aston Villa (14) and their goal difference of -25 is the poorest in the league prior to this weekend’s matches taking place.
Premier League record since the two clubs met at the middle of December:
Liverpool – P: 13 W: 7 D: 2 L: 4 F: 34 A: 16 GD: +18 Pts: 23
Aston Villa – P: 13 W: 3 D: 3 L: 7 F: 16 A: 32 GD: -16 Pts: 12
The match-day official for this fixture is referee Lee Mason
TEAM NEWS
Goalkeepers: Reina
Defenders: Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard (c), Downing,
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge
Reina is finally back from his calf strain as is Carra, so the back 5 should be as expected, considering Skrtel’s fall from grace. The faster and younger Villa wingers will probably keep Johnson and Enrique pinned back, but the alternatives on the bench are no faster than these two, so hopefully we will see an altered strategy from LFC, as we did against Spurs, where the back 4 sit a lot deeper to negate the speed and counter attacking threat.
In midfield, Allen is no longer available, so Lucas should take up his slot shielding the back 4. This is an area of real concern, and has been our downfall in our worst performances this season, as this video will show… http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rTwzQCA-RzY Because of this I believe Henderson will get the nod ahead of Coutinho in the number 10 role/attacking midfielder. Coutinho is by far the most creative option, but Henderson is the more capable in tackling and pressing high up the line, and tracking back to prevent rapid counter attacks. But either choice will be full of positives as both are great in different ways. I expect Downing to face Villa’s biggest weakness, which is at left back. Which could put Suarez as left wing, and Sturridge up front.
STATISTICS
Liverpool’s overall league record against Aston Villa:
Total – P: 175 W: 82 D: 39 L: 54 F: 307 A: 252 GD: +55
Away – P: 87 W: 28 D: 21 L: 38 F: 111 A: 156 GD: -45
Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats v Aston Villa at Villa Park:
Biggest away win (overall): 4-1 (21/1/1925)
Biggest away defeat (overall): 1-6 (16/1/1932)
TRIVIA
During the 1914/1915 campaign, Aston Villa smashed 12 goals past Liverpool, claiming a 6-3 victory over the Reds at Anfield before firing another six goals at Villa Park in the reverse fixture, winning that match 6-2.
Jamie Carragher has made the most appearances against Villa with 30 and the first goal he ever scored for the Reds came against Villa during the 1996/97 season. Robbie Fowler is our top scorer against Villa with 14 goals in just 16 appearances, although Roger Hunt has a slightly more prolific record, scoring ten times in 11 appearances.
Only three players have made the move from Villa to Liverpool. Steve McMahon was the first, signing for £350,000 in September 1985. Steve Staunton then made his return to Anfield as a free transfer in 1998, seven years after Graeme Souness sold him to Aston Villa. Finally, Stewart Downing joined the Reds in 2011 for a fee of £18.5m.
12 Reds have gone in the other direction with Steve Staunton making the move to Villa Park on two occasions, re-joining Villa in 2000 on a free transfer to add to his earlier sale as mentioned above. Other well known Reds to have made the move include Gordon Hodgson (sold for £3000 in 1936), Alun Evans (sold for £72,000 in 1972), Ray Houghton (£825,000; 1992), Dean Saunders (£2.3m; 1992), Stan Collymore (£7m; 1997), David James (£1.8m; 1999) and Milan Baros (£6.5m 2005).
AVFC STRENGTHS
counter attacks
aerial duels
stealing the ball
WEAKNESSES
finishing
avoiding offside
keeping possession
stopping chances being created
defending set pieces
defending counter attacks
avoiding fouls in dangerous areas
ODDS
AVFC home win 30%
draw 30%
LFC away win 40%
Thanks to Tomkins Times – Grown-up views & intelligent discussions on Liverpool FC

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