Liverpool v Aston Villa: Five key battles - Balotelli, Delph and more

Anfield Kop

Here are five potential battles which could decide Liverpool against Aston Villa this weekend.

Aston Villa head into this weekend’s trip to Liverpool as underdogs despite an impressive start to the Premier League season.

Brendan Rodgers’ men have been rocked by the news that Daniel Sturridge is out of action for three weeks, which means a chance for Italian forward Mario Balotelli to lead the attack.

Paul Lambert’s men won’t be pushovers and we’ve assessed five key battles likely to develop during the game.

Dejan Lovren v Gabriel Agbonlahor

Agbonlahor has the pace to hurt the Liverpool defence and he’s good enough to drift onto either centre back. Lovren has been one of Liverpool’s best players so far this season and he seems to have learnt quickly after the heavy defeat at Manchester City. He needs to drop off and give himself time to cope with the pace.

Jordan Henderson v Andreas Weimann

Henderson is one of the most versatile midfielders in the Premier League and he’ll have one eye on the forward runs of Villa’s Austrian attacker. Weimann can find pockets of space between Liverpool’s defence and midfield, pulling Henderson out of position in the process.

Steven Gerrard v Fabian Delph

A great match up between Liverpool’s captain and Villa’s most promising talent. Gerrard will be well rested after his international retirement but Delph will be fresh off the buzz of playing well for England. Gerrard needs to stop Delph from pulling the strings in the middle.

Raheem Sterling v Ron Vlaar

If Vlaar starts then it means he’s passed a fitness test to get to this point. Sterling’s obvious threat on the counter attack and utilising space means he can put Vlaar onto the back foot and test out any remnants of an injury which may still be lingering in his system.

Mario Balotelli v Philippe Senderos

Senderos needs to try and get beneath the skin of the Liverpool forward. Balotelli can let his temper get the better of him and that’s what the Swiss will more than likely try to play on. Balotelli is a top striker and can drag Senderos away from Vlaar, which will give numerous Liverpool players the chance to exploit space through the middle of Villa’s defence.

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