Aston Villa v Liverpool
vSunday 31st March. Kick Off At 13:30pm
Thereís lots of similarities between our clubs this season; a new young progressive manager with their own brand of football, teething problems bedding in the new style of play, over reliance on younger players being rushed through and playing too many games, and most of all, American owners with long pockets and short arms.
The match at Anfield for me is one of the most disappointing of the season, but itís the template for similar defeats like the West Brom one; huff, puff but failing to blow the house in, leading to Keystone Cop defending, goals conceded, heads and hearts dropping and no points on the board. Where did it go right for Villa, where did it go wrong for us and what we can do to prevent it happening again are all revealed by a decent bunch of Villa fans from a couple of Aston Villa forums.
A big thank you to Stuart at www.avillafan.com
and to Limpid at www.villatalk.com
who let me become members of their sites and for their help getting their members to give me some decent answers for this Spyiní Kop. And thanks to all the members of both sites for their time. They seemed like a very decent bunch of people in all honesty, proper fans who knew their football.1. So how do you feel this season has gone for you so far? What are your feelings about the present state and direction of your club and how do you rate the boss and Randy Lerner?Sacro:
This season has been incredibly inconsistent. Beating you lot at Anfield put us all on a high and I think most of us felt we had turned a corner, then we went on one of the worst streaks in the clubs recent history. I have a love/hate attitude to Lambert, sometimes he comes across as a cock and some of his decisions during games have been suspect, but at other times you can see how much the game means to him. Randy Lerner has lost all interest in us it seems, in my personal opinion he should sell up because if we are to continue the way we are we could do it under Kenwright never mind a billionaire.AVSTU:
I wasn't expecting big things to start with but more a comfortable mid-table season. I never expected what we have had to endure but never the less we find ourselves in this position so we must try and deal with it. Randy Lerner is about himself and his pockets IMO - what company owner pays himself back with interest - shocking!AValon:
Being realistic, the season has pretty much gone the way we expected. Thereís been a heap of problems running right through the Villa for a couple or three seasons now and there was never going to be a quick fix. We still might go down, but any Villa fan will tell you there is a very tangible feeling of unity around the place......and thatís something which there hasnít been for a long, long time down B6.Blandy:
So far the season has been a dark thing, with patches of light. I think a lot of Villa fans, me included, were so delighted to see the back of the Scottish manager that we were overly optimistic. As for Randy, the heady of days of the first few years are gone, but he still puts money in, and he's wised up in many regards. He's alright by me, though I wish the club would talk to us as people.Stevo985:
Urgh. The season's been a nightmare. The present state of the club is poor. However, I do believe we have a good manager in Lambert and, assuming he's backed appropriately, we should have a much brighter future.GarethRDR:
Fucking terrible. Lambert has only shown glimpses of the ability/reputation for which he was hired. Lerner's continued absence/silence coupled with seemingly unending austerity measures leave me with little confidence over the direction of the club and even less about his stewardship.Patrick Cousens:
The direction of the club is not in doubt. We've been getting progressively worse since MON left, though he takes some of the blame for the state he left the club in. I rate the manager and I like what he's trying to do. Unlike some I think Lernerís heart is in the right place but he has seriously mismanaged the club, not least by appointing McLeish last year which still staggers me.CI:
Awful season, embarrassing beyond belief. We are a club in freefall.AVFCTheObsession:
So far it's been worse than I expected, honestly didn't think we'd have any concerns about finishing lower than last season's 16th place.2. Youíve had a couple of good wins recently against Reading and West Ham and QPR. What are you hoping for the remainder of this season and going forward into next season?AVSTU:
I believe 7-9 more points will be enough to keep us in this division so the sooner we get them the better. Survival is all that matters and I wouldn't snatch 17th position right now if offered to me.AValon:
I'm hoping we'll avoid the drop of course...thatís a no-brainer. We still need three wins I reckon. As for next season, I think it will certainly depend on keeping the side together, but you can never rely on Mr Lerner not to flog off the family jewels (Barry, Milner, Young and, obviously, Downing).Blandy:
Stay up. That's the be all and end all. Hold on to the good players like Benteke, Weimann, Guzan and so on, and build from a much stronger place than we were a year ago. My fear is we're still going to go down.Patrick Cousens:
This season: Survival - simple as that. Next year, I hope we can build the squad a bit and finish halfway up. Hardly lofty ambitions but it'll take some time to get us back to the right end of the table again. AVFCTheObsession:
I'm praying, praying we stay up. I still fear it will be Championship football next season though.3. Players of the season awards being talked about in the press all the time, so who has been your best player of the season so far, who has been your most improved and who do you reckon is the flop of the season for you? And the same thing for our team, who do you think are our best, worst and most improved. Finally on this subject, who would you choose to have in your team given the chance, Van Persie, Bale or Suarez?Sacro:
Best player for us, Benteke. Reliable and a threat every game. Most improved, Weimann. This season he has really come into his own and has a never say die attitude in every game, plus he knows where the goal is. Flop of the season is a difficult one really because I think all of our players have played their part at some point, if I had to choose though I'd say Ahmadi. I had high hopes for him when he signed but he seems to be a bit overawed on the big occasions and can disappear in matches.
Your best player is clearly Suarez, world class talent and an absolute c**t all in one small package. Worst is Downing, maybe bias but he has just never done it for you and I hope he never does again. Most improved.... Henderson looks like a different player when I've seen him this season compared to last.
And I'd want Bale. AVSTU:
I've always been a big fan of Van Persie but he seems to of drifted away the past month or so and although I don't really like the media crap that surrounds Suarez itís hard to look at anybody else.
In our team I would have Bale - for the reason that he can create goals.AValon:
Benteke and Weimann. The worst I would have to say is Bannan, although, again, he's another one that divides opinion on the boards. For me, he's too lightweight, tries too many Hollywood passes and shouldnít be a million miles near a set-piece. Championship player at best.
As for Liverpool, I'm not sure. Naturally, Suarez is your most exciting player, but he can be saint AND sinner. And I would think you'd have to say Sterling has definitely put his mark on things this year. The worst? Carragher (just joking)....actually there were one or two calls from Villa fans to offer him a deal to shore us up, but I imagine the guy will be there till someone finds him years from now in a closet, covered in cobwebs. Great club man.
And who would I have in our team? Coutinho, but you buggers beat us to that one (as if he was ever going to come to us). Blandy:
Players of the season - best player Bradley Guzan. Benteke and Westwood have been very good. Most improved, Andi Weimann. Flops - Dunne - not played a game. Shay Given - started off in goal, had a stinker, dropped for all but cup games. Darren Bent - not interested in my view and Stephen Ireland - flakier than ever. As for Liverpool - Suarez was a one man team surely for half the season. Downing's started playing well lately. I wouldn't like to comment on your worst. Of the three - Van Persie, Bale or Suarez I'd have none. They're all cracking players, but out problems aren't up front. They're elsewhere. Gerrard or that type is what we need. Stevo985:
Most improved Guzan, I think. He was always solid, but this season he's been spectacular. Flop of the season would probably be Joe Bennett, although that's harsh as he's a youngster. But he's crap!
For you guys, your best player by a country mile is Suarez. I'd say your biggest flop this season has actually been Reina. Every time I see him these days he looks a liability. I think it's an area you guys need to address if you're going to get back to where you once were (hands off Guzan). Most improved? Dunno really, Downing maybe (only because he was totally shit last year)GarethRDR:
Best player is a straight tie between Guzan and Benteke. Guzan has probably saved us as many points as Benteke has won. A nod to Ashley Westwood, who has taken a huge step-up to this level and often provided a metronomic presence to which the rest of the team can tick. Flop of the season could be shared amongst any number of players. Whatever agenda might be at work behind the scenes, bottom line for Darren Bent is he has been (rightly) ousted from the team by a youngster playing his first season outside of Belgium. Ireland and N'Zogbia have both flattered to deceive, though pockets of form from the latter have prevented N'Zogbia from being the complete write-off Ireland is seemingly destined to be. More pressing concerns surround Ciaran Clark and Barry Bannan; though admittedly both have had to endure a lot more playing time over the past couple of seasons then would have likely been asked of younger players had more experienced options been available, their performances over this campaign have frustrated more often than not and have raised questions over their ability to perform consistently at this level. Weimann is probably the standout, adapting to a wider role and coupling his tremendous work rate with a canny knack of being in the right place at the right time. His presence seemingly augments Benteke, and it will be bitterly disappointing if the partnership they are forming is broken up sooner rather than later.
On the outside looking in, Pepe Reina's transformation into the new Heurelho Gomes is seemingly complete. As much of a complete weapon as he is, Suarez is having a very impressive campaign. Not sure on improved, though regular football for Daniel Sturridge will reap rewards, and Coutinho looks more likely to justify his price tag than Downing/Henderson/Carroll ever will.
Probably Van Persie, as his is the face I have the least desire to punch repeatedly out of the three. Patrick Cousens:
Best: Benteke and Guzan // Most improved: Weimann // Flop: Stephen Ireland (again). For you, Best: Suarez, Most improved: Downing, Flop: Reina (always been overrated IMO)
I'd take Bale in my team but I'd back Suarez for player of the year (even if he is a tosser) Heid3ster:
Best player: Guzan and Benteke. Most improved: Weimann. I'll also put in a good word for Matt Lowton. Flop of the season: this is unfair because I think he's got potential but he's nowhere near ready for the Premier League yet: Joe Bennett. Your best: Suarez. Your most improved: probably Enrique. Flop: Joe Allen is looking like kind of a waste of 15 million. I'd take Bale, for the same reason Gareth chose Van Persie.CI:
Best villa: Guzan, improved: Weimann, worst: Ireland
Best pool: Suarez, improved: Downing, worst: Shelvey
Best: Benteke. Most improved: Weimann. Flop: El Ahmadi.
Best: Suarez. Most improved: Brad Jones. Worst: Lucas.
I'd take Bale. Abdulaziz1:
1-Between Benteke and Guzan... 2-Andi Weimann... 3-Maybe Bent, although I don't think it's his fault... It's due to our system and the player position. For you... Well... I didn't see a lot of games... But Of course I think 1-Suarez, 2-Not sure and 3-not sure also. For me I will take Gareth Bale... Then Suarez... Finally Robin Hood... Because we already have a good striker... Suarez offer something else... Bale is super winger and also behind the striker!4. How do you think the match at our place in December turned out in such a comprehensive victory for you? Paul Lambert got his tactics spot on that day, Benteke played like a man possessed, Villa got lucky with a smash and grab raid, we were too embarrassed to play you once we saw Lernerís pockets bulging with his £20 million Downing money, Liverpool were poor, or somewhere in between?Sacro:
Lambert got it right, Benteke was on fire and we had a lot of luck in that first half.Peever:
Too embarrassed to play once they say Lernerís bulging pockets. With him being across the ocean the fact you could see the bulge has everyone worried that his bollocks would crush them all. It might of also helped that Lambert got the tactics right!AVSTU:
Letís be honest - you dominated the game and on another day would of put 4-5 past us. We can't play that way again when we meet. But never the less it was three points closer to safety so I am not going to complain.AValon:
Liverpool 1 Villa 3? I definitely think teams have to take their chances at your place, but I don't think itís as simple as your lot having a night off. We ARE in the process of reconstruction, like yourselves, no matter what anyone thinks and this result was one of those occasions where everything conspired to give us three valuable away points. It always annoys me when fans say 'argh, we should have murdered you'......because if you don't put away your chances, you don't win the game. We did and thatís about all you can say.Stevo985:
I wouldn't say we got lucky, but we were fortunate to not go a goal down early on. But from then on we put in one of our best performances of the season. Benteke and Weimann were wonderful that day.GarethRDR:
Combination of Liverpool's profligacy in front of goal, a rare display of competence in weathering the initial onslaught by our defence and Benteke and Weimann performing to the peak of their abilities at precisely the right time to put the game out of reach.Heid3ster:
We got lucky that in the times you cut us open in the first half you squandered your chances, and we rode that luck. Suarez had an off-day. But our attacking was quite good that day.CI:
Well... I was at the game... It was good for us that Liverpool havenít scored in the beginning... That gave us much confident to push on... Defenders were great that day.5. On to the game now, and firstly, who are the form players and danger men we need to look out for and which of our players are you not looking forward to playing against? Which of your players are we best targeting if we want a win, and which of our players do you think will help you out with a poor performance?Sacro:
Gabby, Benteke and Weimann obviously, they're a threat whoever we're up against. I don't trust our defence against Suarez if he's on form, and I can see him winning you a penalty with Clarke or Bennett doing something rash. I think if we deploy N'Zogbia on the right and Gabby on the left we will run you ragged on the flanks and with this being Delph's first game back I'm hoping he can continue his good run of form in the middle.AVSTU:
It's no secret that Andi Weimann and Christian Benteke have probably carried us for most of the season. I'm not looking forward to both Suarez and Sturridge who could give our back four the run around. AValon:
As to the game, hmm? I don't know who you should be aware of, because if they are switched on you will see a different Villa side than of recent. Obviously, Bentekkers has to be your major worry because he frightens the shite out of defenders, but Weimann could be your undoing. Our weakness isnít a great secret, itís our rickety defence and needs serious work during the summer, but I imagine Rodgers will already be well aware of that.
Who should we be worried about? Suarez, maybe, especially if he gets within diving distance of the box (ooh controversial lol), but joking apart, I would expect a tough game from any of them. Weaknesses, very possibly, will depend on our forward line......they have pace and WILL be at you on the break.Stevo985:
Benteke has the ability to cause any team in the league problems. Weimann is on some great form and his pace will cause you problems. Guzan is on fire so expect goals to be hard to come by and take a look at Westwood for a very tidy player who's very much underrated at the moment.GarethRDR:
An in-form and on-fire Benteke could potentially have Skrtel Flakes for breakfast, washed down with a glass of Agger Juice. Both our left and right flanks have looked susceptible of late, and I don't fancy playing Suarez or Coutinho at the moment.Heid3ster:
Everyone's saying Benteke, but I think Agbonlahor and Weimann may do the most damage, especially if you've got Carragher at the back. He can't cope with their pace. Suarez is always a worry for your side. Our defense has made a lot of errors this year, but let's be fair, all of Carragher, Agger, Skrtel and Reina have plenty of mistakes in them too, and if we pressure them and don't let them play out of the back we will score goals. It's really just a matter of whether you will score more.CI:
Benteke / SuarezAVFCTheObsession:
Dreading facing Coutinho, small, skillful operator.
Our only goal threats are Benteke and Weimann, but they are major threats.
I'm hoping Downing has an unhappy return. 6. In what areas of the pitch do you think the game will be won or lost for you, and what tactics do we need to employ to beat you and get our revenge for the match at Anfield?Sacro:
The wings, if they can get it right and supply the beast with good solid heading opportunities you'll struggle. As always I fear the game can be lost with defensive errors. If Suarez attacks like he can it could all end there.Peever:
Counter, counter, counter, against us..... Our young lions sometimes get too far ahead of themselves. I expect Suarez to score a goal in this exact manner.AVSTU:
Target the back four - in particular Bennett if he plays at left back and you will score goals.Blandy:
If we defend properly, we'll get at least a point. It's that simple.Stevo985:
Defence, basically. Going forward we've got enough about us to score a goal or 3. But we are notoriously shaky at the back. Vlaar returning has given us that bit extra. Not so much for his ability because he isn't amazing, but for his experience and leadership/organisation. If our defence can hold then we've got a good chance. But it's capable of being awful, and with a player like Suarez lurking around there's potential for a rout if we're not on our game.GarethRDR:
If Westwood can put in the same performance he did at Anfield and help win the midfield battle, I fancy our chances. Best tactic for Liverpool would be to keep hitting the flanks.Heid3ster:
Our left side is a big worry. Likewise Clark is always liable to make some monumental error. And we're still crap at defending set pieces.AVFCTheObsession:
Our midfield will have to play very well to stop Coutinho and Gerrard running the show, a big ask for them. You just need to get those two on the ball plenty and feed Suarez. 7. Thereís a new Pope in town now. If he could throw out a few miracles on request, what ones would you ask him to perform for the team and for Paul Lambert and why? Sacro:
A signature on Weimann's new contract, a brick wall between us and the bottom 3 and a promise to stay away from our youth players.Peever:
Give Lambert the ability to give a new speech at his post match interviews.AVSTU:
Turn us back into a premiership force - the right way. Not in a manner that would damage the future of the club.AValon:
Miracles!! A clean sheet or two might do for a start. And I'd like him to fix us to sign the next Messi on the cheap (given his geographical connections).GarethRDR:
I won't ask for much, simply to survive this campaign.Patrick Cousens:
Miracles? Sheikh Mohammed el-lotsakash. Heid3ster:
8 more consecutive wins. CI:
Someone buys IrelandAVFCTheObsession:
A takeover and the back of Randy Lerner.8. Lookalikes now. Brad Guzan, hero goalie or the boss eyed bloke off Dragonís Den? Nathan Baker, full back or bloke from Thor with shorter hair and no beard? Any others from either yours or our team? Sacro:
Suarez, that set of teeth from Trapdoor.AValon:
Lookalikes? Bit easy that one.......Barry Bannan IS Bilbo Baggins.Stevo985:
Brendan Rodgers and David Brent, obviously.GarethRDR:
Though Benteke doesn't look like Eliza Dushku, I have masturbated to images of them both an equal amount this season.Patrick Cousens:
Stephen Ireland looks like Abe from Abe's Odyssey and plays like him as well. Martin Skrtel and Benteke don't really look like anybody in particular, but both look like they might potentially eat your newborn.CI:
Skrtel - Voldamorte9. The game is more and more about managers and styles these days. So letís say Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert were to have a Mortal Kombat style fight. Which one is most likely to throw sand in the eyes and kick his opponent in the family jewels to get the win and why?AVSTU:
That's a good question - both are stubborn managers who will do it their way or no way. It would probably be a boring fight with neither manager willing to bail on their way of thinking.AValon:
I'm not completely sold on Brendan Rodgers to be honest. The Liverpool hot seat is a difficult one to fill and he'll always be under more pressure to succeed than Lambert at Villa, so I think he would be favourite to cut up rough. But don't underestimate the quiet ones, only at your peril.Stevo985:
I admire Rodgers purely as a manager. I think he's very good. But as a bloke, the guy is an absolute tool, the comparison to Brent above being the main reason. He makes me cringe more than anyone in football. So I'd back him for the win, purely because his pre fight speech would torture Lambert into submission. GarethRDR:
Rodgers seemingly relishes the role of 'Grand Apologist for Cheating' required of all Liverpool managers, so I'd wager him for the sand-throw. Lambert's lack of defensive nous means he'd likely try and counter the sand-throw with his own face, though through sheer luck in his blinded haze he would invoke his animalistic, transform into a Bentekasaurus and simply eat Rodgers.Patrick Cousens:
Lambert. Rodgers is too idealistic for that sort of tomfoolery.AVFCTheObsession:
Lambert has a trick or two up his sleeve I fancy.10. And finally, your realistic and honest predictions for the score. Sacro:
2-2, Suarez and Gerard (penalty)... Gabby and Benteke.Peever:
Honest......Villa 14 Liverpool 9......Realistic.... I will be there (flying from Canada) and my track record not been good in 2 previous seasons Iíve been over so....1-1....the normAVSTU:
Liverpool win sadly.AValon:
0-2. Our home form has always been the issue this season and I'd rather play you at Anfield to be honest, any day.Stevo985:
3-2 to Liverpool, unfortunately.GarethRDR:
2 Ė 2Patrick Cousens:
I think it'll be a draw. 2-2.Heid3ster:
I hate score predictions. I'll go with a 2-2 draw also but it really could go any way at all.CI:
Villa 0-2 Liverpool
So it looks like most Villa fans are expecting us to win or draw. In fact, theyíre more confident of a Lambert win against Rodgers in a grudge match than they are of beating us. Fingers crossed the players donít think like this otherwise weíll have another Southampton performance where they think they only have to turn up to get the three points. And even amongst decent supporters, Suarez is rated highly as a player but really isnít liked very much. He might be a little bastard to everyone else, but heís our little bastard, and long may it stay that way!