Aston Villa welcome Liverpool to Villa Park on Easter Sunday, with the home side desperate to maintain their good form seen of late. The hosts have won their last two games in the Premier League and if they manage to spring a surprise against the red half of Merseyside, they could haul themselves back out of the relegation zone. If Villa secure a victory, they will have achieved the double over Liverpool after managing to pull off a shock 3-1 win at Anfield last December.
Paul Lambert’s side arguably showcased their best football this season after a wonderful display of counter-attacking football with both Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann playing to the best of their ability that afternoon. The relegation threatened club had been showing signs of improvement even prior to the back-to-back victories over Reading and QPR, with brave displays during their narrow defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal. Liverpool are currently placed in 7th and hopes of a top 4 finish are diminishing especially after their disappointing showing against Southampton in their previous Premier League match. The Reds are now 10 points adrift of Chelsea, who are occupying the final Champions League spot and they have to view this match as a must win game.
Aston Villa could be without both Brett Holman (hamstring) and Ciaran Clark (shoulder) after they picked up their injuries whilst representing their countries during the international break. Nathan Baker has been passed fit after a head injury forced the young defender to be removed early on against QPR, expect him to start at centre-back alongside Ron Vlaar. Darren Bent (foot) and Karim El Ahmadi (ankle) are back in contention and are most likely to start from the bench for the home side. Fabian Delph is expected to return to the starting XI after serving a two-match suspension. Brendan Rodgers was fortunate enough to see all his players return from the international break without any injury troubles. Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina have both resumed full training and both could feature.
- Aston Villa are looking to complete a league double over Liverpool for the first time since the inaugural Premier League season of 1992-93 – if successful they will become the third club to do the double over Liverpool this season, after West Brom and Manchester United.
- Paul Lambert has won all 3 of his Premier League games against Brendan Rodgers.
- Villa have lost only once in their last 4 meetings with Liverpool.
- Villa have won three of their last five league matches. Prior to this they had won only four of their opening 25 games.
Although both men operate on the flanks, they each play different roles for their respective clubs. Given the acknowledged difference in quality between the sides on paper, Andreas Weimann has had to operate as a linchpin in their counter-attacking style against the top clubs. As the above statistics show, the Austrian is not a natural wide midfielder but more of a striker but for long spells during this Premier League season he has had to adjust his game to meet the demands of his team.
When comparing the statistics, it is important to note both men have played the same number of games this season. Weimann has shown that he is a far more direct player, who likes to sit wide and drop just behind Christian Benteke. He has shown his willingness to shoot as he averages over 2 shots a game with his accuracy coming in at a healthy 53% but his chance conversion is a disappointing 15%. Stewart Downing has floated in almost 3 times as many crosses as Weimann with a solid 27% of his attempted balls into the striker, reaching the intended target.
Somewhat surprisingly, Downing has taken on defenders by dribbling almost 3 times more than the Austrian. Although Downing has made an improvement in terms of goals scored in the Premier League compared to last season, he has still much work to do but arguably, it is not his first priority to get on the score sheet. He has scored one goal in every 6 full games (in terms of time) but he has a lowly shooting accuracy but in his defence, has 100% big chance conversion rate. When he has been expected to score, he has made no mistake.
It should be an interesting game today with both teams still fighting to either stay up or grap a European spot.
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All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]