Aston Villa V Liverpool: Tuesday 29th December – 19:45 GMT (Sky Sports 1)
Matt’s Tip: BOTH TEAMS to SCORE (Yes) – 1.91 WilliamHill
Aston Villa want what Liverpool had at the start of this season but yet Liverpool want to be in the same position as Villa come the end of this season – Champions League football. There is only one thing on the minds of both clubs at present and that’s accumulating as many points as possible in order to enhance their respective chances of finishing in the top four.
For the time being, Aston Villa hold all the aces as they have a five point cushion over Liverpool but still find themselves two points short of a top four occupation. However, a win over a struggling Liverpool would lift them straight back into that elusive top four above Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool, after one of their poorest starts to any season, have now been left to play catch up and now every game is a must win affair, especially one with an in form Aston Villa. A win over Martin O’Neill’s side would close the gap on Villa to just two points but, more importantly, put them within four points of regaining a top four position.
However, Villa have already claimed the scalp of Liverpool this season at Anfield of all places and will be aiming to complete a league double over the Reds’s, what would be their first ever in the Premiership. The Liverpool players should need little inspiration going into this fixture as the words ‘Revenge’ should be implanted into their minds heading into Villa Park.
Our Bet: Villa’s biggest asset is their attack and the young and exuberant talent they have in the final third. Their wingers consist of James Milner, Ashley Young and now Stewart Downing, a former target of Rafael Benitez. The Villa midfield is now jam packed with creativity and they should enjoy craving out opportunities against what has been a flaky Liverpool defence this season.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have Fernando Torres back in the fray and he should be good for his spell against Wolves last Saturday and for his 90 minutes at Portsmouth. However, the Spaniard has now gone two games without a goal and he should be starving for some goalmouth action at Villa Park, whereas the likes of Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt, the latter given a rest at the weekend, will be eager to make up for their below par performances this season with a goal contribution.
Villa will lick their lips at the prospect of tearing apart a Liverpool defence suffering a lull in confidence, whereas Liverpool still posses bags of quality up front, so a punt on both teams getting in on the action looks beneficial.