Aston Villa v Liverpool Preview: In-form Benteke to bully the Reds?

Aston Villa host Liverpool in the Saturday tea-time kick off as they look to claim another big scalp early on in the season.

Last season 1-2

Odds: Aston Villa 10/3, Draw 11/4, Liverpool 18/19

Both sides got off to the perfect start on the opening day with Aston Villa producing the shock result of last weekend with a 3-1 away at Arsenal, whilst Liverpool had Simon Mignolet to thank for a late penalty save to ensure Liverpool beat Stoke.

Aston Villa have also been in midweek action and came close to picking up a point at Stamford Bridge, with manager Paul Lambert feeling a little aggrieved at refereeing decisions during their 2-1 defeat at Chelsea, but Villa have demonstrated early on that they seem to be much improved from last year.

One of the key battles in the game will be Christian Benteke up against Liverpool’s centre-halves and how much trouble Agbonlahor could cause with his runs in and behind the defensive line. Liverpool were easily bullied last season by Benteke, which mean he may try and play up against Daniel Agger given Kolo Toure's good handling of a more physical presence against Stoke.

Liverpool however will look to try and create as many chances as they did last weekend against Stoke with Phillipe Coutinho, Iago Aspas and Daniel Sturridge linking up with each other, and Jordan Henderson possibly there to provide some extra attacking threat but will hope to convert more of those chances into goals this weekend.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Liverpool keep the same starting eleven as the opening day. Despite the signing of left-back Aly Cissokho, Jose Enrique is expected to keep his place in the side, allowing Cissokho to bed in in next week’s League Cup game against Notts County. Only worries on the injury front for Liverpool is Sebastian Coates meaning that Cissokho should take his place on the bench.

Villa however may want to freshen up their side given they have had an extra game to contend with, and just how much will the midweek visit to Chelsea have taken out of them, or will the game have benefited them? This could be decided by the odd goal.

Last time they met

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool – March 2013

Christian Benteke fired the home side in front 15 minutes before half-time as Aston Villa threatened to repeat their victory from Anfield earlier in the season as they bid to climb out of the relegation zone. But Liverpool weren’t having any of it as Phillipe Coutinho put Jordan Henderson clear to chip over Brad Guzan to bring Liverpool back on level terms straight after the break before Steven Gerrard grabbed the winner after Luis Suarez was brought down by Nathan Baker on the hour mark. Gerrard was later involved at the other end as his goal line clearance prevented Benteke from grabbing the hosts a point.

image: © little-pete

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