As Villa prepare to face Liverpool this Saturday, we predict the starting line-ups.
Aston Villa’s performance at the Emirates last weekend was an emphatic rebuttal to anyone foolish enough to think they will struggle again this season. That they fell short against Chelsea four days later shouldn’t detract from what was an outstanding opening day display. And on another night the Villans could have left Stamford Bridge with at least a point.
Paul Lambert is building an outstanding young squad, and he also appears to have reinvigorated Gabriel Agbonlahor by simply telling him to do what he is good at.
Christian Benteke and Antonio Luna may have grabbed the headlines last weekend, but it was the performance of Agbonlahor that most impressed. If the 26-year-old keeps playing like that, a World Cup place is a certainty should England qualify.
Liverpool would have embarrassed Stoke City were it not for the fine goalkeeping of Asmir Begovic. But as much as the Bosnian kept the Potters in the game, Reds ‘keeper Simon Mignolet was ultimately the one to thank for the three points.
Lambert built last season’s successful relegation fight around a core group of players and a sense of sticking with what worked. So expect Villa to play the same side that did so well against Arsenal, provided Nathan Baker recovers from a twisted ankle. If not Ciaran Clark should be in line to deputise, as long as he is over the head injury suffered on Wednesday.
Without Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers is likely to stick with a front three of Iago Aspas, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
The Spaniard and the Brazilian were impressive against Stoke, and once they develop their understanding they could be one of the league’s most exciting support acts for whoever plays up front.
For now that will be Daniel Sturridge, and I can’t see Rodgers tinkering much with the side in the weeks ahead…unless of course he is successful in bringing in new faces.
While Aly Cissokho has recently arrived on loan, it may be too soon for a start, especially against such direct opponents. In light of that, here is how I expect both teams to line up on Saturday:
Do you agree with the sides above? If not, who do you think will play on Saturday?
image: © ell brown