Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday August 10 2007
Live on Setanta.
Here we go again, another season and another shot at Europe. This time around maybe a slightly more realistic shot as the confidence amongst the players seems higher and we do have some quality in the squad, albeit a squad short in numbers - but hopefully not for long. Villa finished 11th last year and ended on a high with a nine game unbeaten run and the long ball seemingly abandoned for attractive, attacking football. More of that and a bit of luck with injuries and we can be in the mix at the end of the season without doubt. The main thing to do away with is all the draws (17 last season)!
Thomas Sorensen is out with an injury so Stuart Taylor will play in goal. Everyone else is fit to start.
Villa from: Taylor (GK), Barry (Captain), Cahill, Laursen, Mellberg, Delaney, Bouma, O’Halloran, Berger, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Osbourne, Maloney, Young, Carew, Harewood, Moore, Agbonlahor
Barry is always consistently quality but the key man this game could well be Martin Laursen, if he can be the rock at the back, the fast lads like Young, Moore and Gabby can do the damage the other end.
Liverpool have no injury problems at the moment.
Liverpool from: Reina (GK), Finnan, Riise, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Sissoko, Mascherano, Alonso, Lucas, Gerrard, Benayoun, Babel, Kewell, Pennant, Voronin, Kuyt, Crouch, Torres
A quality squad so you could pick anyone but Kuyt on his day looks very handy!
Liverpool don't have a good record of starts in the Premiership and haven't won an opening day game since 2002 (they beat us!).
This is the sort of game that Martin Laursen recently said Villa have to go for, as he right said other teams beat the top four so why shouldn't we?
Our record isn't good of late with just four points out of a possible 27 at VP. Our last win was when Stan Collywobbles scored two (2-1 win) in 1998.
Both teams were unbeaten in pre-season (Villa 4 wins, 1 draw) (Liverpool 4 wins, 2 draws)
Form in the Premiership: Villa 8 wins, Liverpool 16 wins, Draws 6
Form v Liverpool at VP: Villa 5 wins, Liverpool 6 wins, Draws 4
Last season at VP was 0-0 in a bizarre game where Liverpool didn't turn up!
Ref Watch: Steve Bennett
Mark Lawrenson has tipped Liverpool to win 1-2.
Mystic Mug would love to start with a positive prediction but having only just dusted off his crystal ball he has decided he is sitting firmly on the fence and says a score draw.
Fancy a flutter? William Hill have a free £10 bet if you do: Click Here There odds for the game are:
Villa win: 3/1
Liverpool win: 5/6
Luke Moore and John Carew are both 15/2 to score first, Gabby is 8/1, Young 10/1 and Barry isn't a bad bet at 14/1. I'm going for Martin Laursen though, at 50/1 I fancy a flutter!
Newcastle v Villa (A) 18/08/2007 (5.15)
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