By Gary Fulcher, Daniel Rhodes and Mihail Vladimirov.
Liverpool travel to Villa Park on Sunday – 1.30pm kick off UK time – hoping to prevent Paul Lambert’s relegation strugglers from completing a first league ‘double’ over us since the 1992/93 campaign, when they recorded a 4-2 win at Villa Park and a 2-1 victory at Anfield over Graeme Souness’ Reds.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel secure a 2-0 victory for Liverpool at Villa Park, but Villa won the reverse fixture this season at Anfield 3-1 back in December thanks to goals from Christian Benteke (2) and Andreas Weimann.
Since that surprise victory for Paul Lambert’s side, Aston Villa have won just three of the 12 Premier League games played – with all three victories coming in their last four league games – and they currently sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone.
Aston Villa’s record at Villa Park this season goes some way to explaining why they face the very real threat of relegation for the first time since 1986/87. Their tally of four wins from 15 home games is the joint third lowest in the divisions, while only Wigan Athletic with eight defeats have lost more games at home than Villa’s total of seven. Only bottom side Queens Park Rangers have scored fewer goals at home (11) than Aston Villa (14) and their goal difference of -25 is the poorest in the league prior to this weekend’s matches taking place.
Premier League record since the two clubs met at the middle of December:
- Liverpool – P: 13 W: 7 D: 2 L: 4 F: 34 A: 16 GD: +18 Pts: 23
- Aston Villa – P: 13 W: 3 D: 3 L: 7 F: 16 A: 32 GD: -16 Pts: 12
The match-day officials for this fixture are:
Referee: Lee Mason Assistants: D Bryan, A Halliday Fourth official: H Webb
Fabio Borini (shoulder), Joe Allen (shoulder) and Martin Kelly (knee) are ruled out for Liverpool.
Aston Villa are missing Stiliyan Petrov (Leukaemia), Gary Gardner (knee), Richard Dunne (groin), Chris Herd (foot), Marc Albrighton (foot), Nathan Baker (head) and have doubts over Darren Bent (foot) and Karim El Ahmadi (foot).
Goalkeepers: Reina, Jones, Gulacsi
Defenders: Johnson, Wisdom, Flanagan, Skrtel, Agger, Coates, Carragher, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, Coutinho, Gerrard (c), Henderson, Downing, Shelvey, Sterling, Suso, Assaidi
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge
Goalkeepers: Given, Guzan, Marshall
Defenders: Vlaar (c), Clark, Bennett, Stevens, Lichaj, Marshall, Williams
Midfielders: Ireland, El Ahmadi, N’Zogbia, Holman, Westwood, Delph, Sylla, Bannan, Johnson, Carruthers, Lowton
Strikers: Bent, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Dawkins, Weimann
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