Teams: Reds v Villa – Xabi back

After Liverpool’s 4-1 demolition of Manchester United last week, and then defeats for both Manchester United and Chelsea yesterday, this game has become far more important than anyone expected it be just a few weeks ago.

Liverpool went into that match at Old Trafford last week seven points behind, having played one game more. Had they lost, and allowing United three points for that game in hand, Liverpool would have effectively been 13 points behind.

But that didn’t happen, and winning today would see Liverpool close the gap to a single point. United would still have a game in hand, but it would put tremendous pressure on United. Liverpool can do no more than win their own games and wait to see how United do in theirs. And today really needs to be a win.

Villa go into the game three points from fourth place. Anything less than a 9-0 win for Villa will see them remain in fifth place behind Arsenal who have superior goal difference.

But Villa are obviously a far better side than they have been in most recent seasons. Liverpool have to work hard. Rafa has to outwit O’Neill.

Rafa has put last week’s last-minute stand-in, the legendary Sami Hyypia, back on the bench wth Alvaro Arbeloa available again at right back. Jamie Carragher moves back to his favoured position of centre-back, alongside Martin Skrtel.

Also back in the starting line-up is Xabi Alonso, recovered from injury and replacing Lucas. He’ll play alongside Javier Mascherano.

Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt will start on the left and right respectively, with the world class duo of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres continuing their brilliant partnership.

Good to see Daniel Agger’s name amongst the subs, and Dossena’s there too maybe hoping to get on and continue his little run of scoring!

Some familiar faces on the opposite side – Villa have Brad Friedel in goal and Emile Heskey up front. They’ve also got Gareth Barry, a Liverpool target last summer, who still may end up playing at Anfield on a more permanent basis.

The game will begin with a minute’s silence, to pay tribute to Bryce Morrison, the club secretary who sadly and suddenly passed away yesterday. Liverpool will wear black armbands.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 20 Mascherano, 14 Alonso, 8 Gerrard, 18 Kuyt, 11 Riera, 9 Torres.
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 2 Dossena, 4 Hyypia, 5 Agger, 21 Lucas, 24 Ngog, 31 El Zhar.

Aston Villa:1 Friedel, 20 Reo-Coker, 24 Cuellar, 15 Davies, 2 Young, 8 Milner, 19 Petrov, 6 Barry, 7 Young, 18 Heskey, 10 Carew.
Subs: 22 Guzan, 11 Agbonlahor, 14 Delfouneso, 16 Knight, 17 Salifou, 21 Shorey, 26 Gardner.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

13 thoughts on “Teams: Reds v Villa – Xabi back”

  1. The last three matches have surpassed my wildest expectations. The best I have seen the reds play under Benitez with blistering pace in attack and a dominant display in defence, midfield and up front. A masterclass to Villa in every department.

    Today’s game was a massacre of Villa from start to finish, which is no mean feat considering they are fifth and we drew with them last time.

    Eight games to go and anything is possible.

    We are peaking at just the right time and belief is coursing through every player. …………….very, very exciting times ahead.

    Gerrard………..a phenomenon and a world class performance (yet again!).

  2. Really good to see Agger getting a run out today. With big games in Europe & the league coming up we’ll need cover & options at the back.

    Delighted as well with the return of Alonso.

  3. impressive display considering gerrard and torres did not play at there best in open play, pepe was huge today great save at a critical time of the match and a great assest for the second goal whan villa were starting to control the game.

  4. Went today.

    The feeling inside the ground before kick off kinda had a big score on the cards. Everyone was up for it.

    Great game, good performance all round. Riera, Pepe and Skrtel were immense today.

    Cant belive the bloody international break is again going to halt or momentum again.

    And a big well done to Mr Danny Murphy. Once a red always a red. Well done fella.

  5. Magnficent result today.

    5 goals – and Torres didn’t get one of them. He should be hungry against Fulham. (And let’s hope Murphy the ‘once a red always a red’ extends our hopes by not turning us over, not that we should need his charity on that occasion!)

    It’s interesting how now Rafa’s two holding midfielders at home is seen as a positive thing, and the incessant calls for 4-4-2 formation has quietened a little.

    Riera played like Babel could take his place and Reina deserves all the plaudits he gets for clean sheet record and his magnificent distribution from goal.

    We can only keep winning and see where it takes us in the league. Something tells me to expect the unexpected, so roll on the next few games…………as I look over my shouder to the return of Keane for the last game of the season!

  6. well done lads very important win the pressure was on to close the gap were in the past we would have blown it. Reina solid as ever. lets just consentrate on our own games and let united worry about us.
    R.I.P Bryce Morrison our thoughts our with your family

  7. Good news on Brad Friedel’s red card. Let’s hope he’s extra motivated to stop United in two weeks!!

  8. Please tell me why Rooneys has not been given a 3 match ban for his antics.

    Masch did not punch the corner flag in a display of violence on his way off the pitch or for that matter throw the ball at the referee.

    An example again that Utd have their own set of rules.

  9. Apparently SAF also made a comment on MUTV something along the lines “what would you expect from that ref”. Which goes back to Rafas FACTS, certainly concerning the “respect the referees” campaign.

    Presumably referees are supposed to be intimidated by this and therefore more lenient on United players in the run-in.

    The FA needs to make an example of SAF (It was very quick to make an example of Masch last season ‘cos indiscipline was flavour of the week at the time if I remember correctly)

  10. @ Edward actaully fargie said worse then you qouted anf it was for sfy not MUTV he said

    Scholes’ dismissal for the penalty had seemed a fair call by the referee, but Ferguson has cast doubt over the decision by noting that the midfielder was little more than a yard from the header when it was made by Bobby Zamora.

    “It’s close to him so he could have easily not given it, but it’s Phil Dowd so what do you expect?” Ferguson remarked.

    “The second one I have to say, did he (Rooney) throw the ball at the referee? The ball was thrown direct to where the free-kick was taken and did it hit the referee? No, the ball didn’t hit the referee.

    “Was it thrown in anger? Yes, because he wanted the game hurried up, he threw with pace to get the game going.”

  11. I notice Hicks and Gillett are manoevuring to secure their positions at LFC, with the sale of their respective sporting interests in the US and Canada.

    Seems success on the pitch keeps them onboard for longer…………..

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