Paul Lambert’s previously inexperienced Aston Villa side look a different outfit to the one struggling with relegation last season. Their game against Liverpool will cap off a tough opening fixture list, having already played Arsenal and Chelsea away. Villa produced one of the biggest upsets of last season when they beat the Merseyside club 3-1 at Anfield. Christian Benteke scored two that day and has carried his goal scoring form into the new campaign by scoring three goals in his last two games.
The continued absence of Luis Suarez will allow Brendan Rodgers to further experiment with the pairing of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho – two of Liverpool’s standout performers in last Saturday’s lunchtime kick off against Stoke. Liverpool have confirmed that Sebastian Coates will be out for the large majority of the season with ligament damage, further strengthening Rodgers’ cause for bringing in a new centre-half.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 5.30pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Aston Villa 1 (Benteke) Liverpool 2 (Henderson, Gerrard), Premier League, March 2013
Liverpool 1 (Gerrard) Aston Villa (Benteke 2, Weimann)
Liverpool 1 (Suarez) Aston Villa (Herd)
Benteke has scored 3 goals in his only two games against Liverpool, and 17 goals in the Premier League this calendar year – more than any other player in the division.
Liverpool have kept clean sheets in six of their last eight matches.
Liverpool are undefeated in 14 of their last 15 Premier League away matches.
Aston Villa to win: 4.3
Liverpool to win: 2.02
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 5.30pm, highlights on BBC1 at 10.20pm.