Liverpool play what feels like their 382nd game in just 196 days on Sunday as Jurgen Klopp leads his men to Villa Park for this ‘Unloved Super Sunday’ match. Any romantically attached football fan who wants to remain that way is likely to jettison this game to pamper their better halves for a couple of hours between the really ‘big’ games of the day.
The big story from Liverpool this week has been the welcome yet surprising climb-down by FSG on their ticket pricing strategy for next season. A very public and effective demonstration by the Anfield faithful has forced the Liverpool owners to freeze ticket prices for the next two years, costing them a cool £2,000,000 per annum as a result. Of course they will be comforted by their share of the additional Eleventy-Squillion quid they will receive from the new TV Revenue deal.
On the field just two more games stand between Liverpool and a weekend off, following their midweek FA Cup heartbreak at the Boleyn Ground. The return of Coutinho, Origi and Sturridge has boosted the attacking options available to Klopp, who has Roberto Firmino in sparking form with 5 goals in his last 6 games. However the defensive frailties that have blighted the side all season still remain. The performance of Lucas as a makeshift centre-half on Tuesday night may give Klopp food for thought as he decides who should attempt to hold the fort at Villa Park, as he has to now come into the reckoning alongside KOLO, Sakho, Caulker and Ilori. I suspect Jurgen may throw all the names into the hat and let fate decide. The impressive Brad Smith is injured and he joins Skrtel and Lovren in the treatment room.
Aston Villa are showing some signs of life over the past 6 games, picking up two wins and two draws in that spell. However at kick-off they will be 8 points from safety with just 13 games left, so this game already has a ‘win-or-bust’ feel about it. Rudy Gestede is doubtful with a hamstring strain – his aerial prowess would be an attractive option for Remi Garde to try and exploit this obvious weakness in the Liverpool defence. Jordan Ayew, Villa’s top scorer this season, is suspended. Agbonlahor is likely to lead the line in their absence. Alan Hutton is also a doubt, but most Liverpool fans will keep their fingers crossed that he starts. Sorry Alan.