Liverpool - Aston Villa

At the start of another title pursuit, the Reds got a hard punch in north London against Tottenhem (1-2). The fact is Liverpool put a decent display and was harmed for a penalty kick, but it was obvious they simply need some quality in defense. Also, departure Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid didn’t bring anything good. Rafa Benitez as a first help brought Greece international Sotirios Kyrgiakos (£2 million from AEK Athens), but real shock came when gentlemen Hicks and Gillett announced there’re no money for other signings. So, last line is far from Chelsea’s or Man.Utd.’s for example and Rafa will try to overcome it with strong attacking force that the team possess. But the problem is, it can works against teams who are focused on defending against Liverpool (Stoke, second round, 4-0 at Anfield), but against equal opponents it can bring some shocks during the season. For tonight’s game defense will be even weaker, as Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio are injured, while Martin Skrtel is in doubt. Liverpool have not lost at home in the league for 31 games.

Villa started the season with the Champions League like a main target (once again). But, as Liverpool, faced the problems on the first step. Wigan took all three points from Villa Park (0-2) and game was marked by big errors in Villa’s defense. In European trip during the mid-week, club noticed another defeat, 0-1 against Rapid on the road. Boss Martin O'Neill has a difficult task to balance between high ambitions and limited resources. Carlos Cuellar and Curtis Davies are currently the only center-backs in squad, midfield lost the skipper Gareth Barry (went to Man.City) and O’Neill is desperately looking for new signings. As Benitez, he will also try to overcome defensive problems with the attacking attitude. Hm…ok. For tonight’s encounter, Aston Villa are monitoring the fitness of Curtis Davies (one of two cb) who injured his shoulder in the defeat by Rapid Vienna, while another defender Luke Young has been given compassionate leave after the death of his half-brother. Also, Anfield is not a place where Villa like to be, as they didn’t win in last seven games (five defeats and two draws), and last four meetings ended with four goals, or more.

Both sides have huge problems in defense lines, but have to go on all three points. For Villa another defeat would be a second in two games, while in Liverpool nobody wants even to think about second failure in three rounds. As both can’t rely on defense, will try to score once more than opponent. Betfair offer 1.90, Pinnacle 1.83. Over.

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