This is a fixture involving two sides who have underachieved spectacularly this term, with the media raising question marks about both managers. While Liverpool’s campaign appears to be over with the Reds sat in 8th spot, Aston Villa still have plenty of work to do as they aim to put more distance between themselves and the bottom three.
There has been intense newspaper reporting about Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish this week, with most media sources suggesting that the Anfield legend is extremely lucky to stay in his position. Even though the Merseyside outfit do have one trophy in their cabinet in the form of the Carling Cup, this is not nearly sufficient for a club of Liverpool’s stature and many are questioning just why so few questions have been raised over Dalglish up until now. Dalglish himself has admitted that he cannot remember the Reds being in such poor form, with the Anfield outfit currently on a dismal run that has seen them lose six out of their last seven games. Such form means that the highest position they can realistically reach is 7th – a place held by bitter rivals Everton, who have spent far, far less in the transfer market this term.
Aston Villa are in a similar position, although Alex McLeish has faced scrutiny throughout the campaign due to his Birmingham connections. Villa have never really threatened the top half under McLeish’s rein, which is highly surprising considering the vast sums of money that they have spent over the last eighteen months. Unfortunately, their season is certainly not yet over as they hover just five points above the bottom three. Their recent form ahead of this game is also poor, with Villa winning just one of their last nine in all competitions. On a slightly more positive note, Villa have been much better away from home this term although their last win on the road was still all the way back in January.
Liverpool have a major problem ahead of this clash, with the Reds forced into making a change between the sticks following Pepe Reina’s red card last week. Kenny Dalglish at least has some good news though, with Daniel Agger poised to return following a lengthy layoff with a rib injury. There is plenty to report for the visitors on the other hand, with Alex McLeish firstly set to be without Andreas Weimann and Carlos Cuellar as ankle and thigh problems hinder the duo respectively. On a more positive note, Charles N’Zogbia and Alan Hutton both look set to return following their injury problems.
Liverpool’s form over recent weeks may be atrocious, but they are up against a Villa side who have endured an equally torrid campaign. With that, we think that the Reds will put a halt to recent results and record a narrow 1-0 victory over Villa in this clash.