Match Preview: Aston Villa v Liverpool

imageLiverpool go looking to end 2009 with a vital win at rivals Aston Villa after a dreary first half of the Premier League season.

Villa currently sit fifth in the league table having beaten both Manchester United and Chelsea of late. They, of course, have also defeated Liverpool earlier this season.

But the Reds will be lifted by their Boxing Day victory over Wolves at Anfield in which Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun got on the scoresheet.

Alberto Aquilani came through 82 minutes of football against Wolves and is expected to make his third start for the club at Villa Park.

Although, as ever with Rafa there may be a surprise omission having played so recently, he said “It is a difficult decision with the Villa game coming so quickly. Some of our players were very tired after the Wolves match, while some had little injuries. We will need to assess them all.”

Benayoun faces a fitness test ahead of the fixture after appearing to pick up a knock late on Saturday evening, while Dirk Kuyt will be recalled after being rested against Wolves.

Villa are fresh off the back of a drubbing by Arsenal. The Gunners ran out 3-0 winners to extend their lead in the league table on Martin O’Neil’s men.

For Villa, they are missing winger Ashley Young, who picked up his fifth booking of the season at Arsenal, meaning Stewart Downing and James Milner are expected to occupy their wide midfield spots. Former Red, and recently linked with a return to Anfield, Emile Heskey is doubtful with a groin problem so John Carew could start.

The corresponding fixture last season saw Villa hold the Reds to a 0-0 draw, back in August 2008.

Heavy snow is expected to hit the Midlands today.

Kick off is 7:45pm at Villa Park, live on Sky Sports (UK).

Referee: Peter Walton
Assistant referees: Nigel Bannister & Stuart Burt
Fourth official: Mike Jones

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