Aston Villa vs. Liverpool: Keys to Victory for Both Sides in Villa Park Clash
Both Aston Villa and Liverpool enter their Premier League evening clash with a win on the table.
Who will win this match?
Paul Lambert’s side have faced a difficult start to the campaign, racking up three points against Arsenal and an impressive performance in the midweek defeat to Chelsea, while Brendan Rodgers’ men enjoyed a 1-0 home win over Stoke City on opening day.
Villa Park will be rocking for the team's first home appearance of the season. Continuing his development of youth, Lambert’s men continue to impress with fast-paced, attacking football that suggests last year’s brush with relegation was nothing more than an unfortunate one-off.
Similarly, Rodgers looks to have galvanised Liverpool by stamping his trademark passing game into a side that has strengthened with smart summer signings. Both managers have dipped into their cheque book across the transfer window, and both squads look better for it.
Both teams will expect to leave the stadium with victory. What are the keys to such a feat? Let’s take a look.
Fabian Delph's Freedom in Midfield
Villa fans will be surprised and pleased with Fabian Delph’s long overdue form. The talented 24-year-old has struggled to establish himself in the Premier League, but two encouraging performances against elite clubs will have Lambert feeling like he’s signed a new midfielder.
Liverpool are likely to set up with Steven Gerrard, Lucas and Jordan Henderson patrolling the middle. Lambert will be confident of competing with a central trio that pits Delph alongside Ashley Westwood and Karim El Ahmadi. It’ll be an energetic battle that pushes and pulls across the pitch, but it’s one Delph needs to break free from if Villa are to spring into life on the attack.
The former Leeds midfielder has successfully completed an average of 4.5 dribbles per game this season, as reported by Whoscored.com. He has also been on the receiving end of seven fouls across both games and continues to draw the opposition in with close control and a turn of foot that makes him elusive in the centre.
Delph’s ability to shake off his shackles and bypass the Liverpool midfield will allow Christian Benteke extra space at the front. The Belgian needs support as soon as he receives the ball and will welcome forward runs of Delph into all areas of the pitch.
Christian Benteke's Battle Against Liverpool Centre-Backs
Needless to say, Benteke will be key to any Aston Villa success against the Reds. This is not a player who needs large amount of service to operate, but he must be afforded room to intelligently manoeuvre beyond Liverpool’s physical centre-backs.
Both Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure will be well aware of Benteke’s talents. Rodgers’ powerful defence have to suffocate his presence if they are to leave the Midlands unscathed, but it’s the focus on this battle that will provide the home side with extra room to operate.
Service to Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool remain sans Luis Suarez, but this shouldn’t worry the travelling support. Daniel Sturridge has proven himself more than capable and already has one match-winning goal to his name this season.
The English forward needs to receive regular service. His exchanges with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Iago Aspas and Gerrard must employ a high-energy, forward-thinking method of attack that allows Liverpool to counter-attack with intent.
Sturridge loves to drop slightly deep, ping possession out wide and head into the box in order to cause mayhem. It’s these positions, in which he begins on the 18-yard line, that Sturridge often proves deadliest. Stoke City will vouch for that.
Iago Aspas' Ability to Hold Up the Ball
Rodgers will be massively pleased with Iago Aspas’ early contribution to Liverpool. The 26-year-old Spaniard showed a terrific work ethic and willingness to bring others into play during his competitive Anfield debut against the Potters.
The tricky forward is the kind of player who can dictate play at the speed he wishes. Whether darting toward the box or holding play up to wait for support, Aspas’ ability to keep momentum progressing will be key to Liverpool’s speedy play as the season progresses.
Celta Vigo’s former striker is unlikely to replicate the amount of goals Suarez has scored during his Merseyside career, but that hardly matters when his ceaseless energy and dedication to the cause already look to have improved a young attack.
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