Liverpool - Aston Villa Preview: Suarez returns as Reds look for third win on the trot
Two managers who exceeded expectations at newly-promoted clubs last season come face to face in charge of their new sides, with both in need of a win after disappointing starts
By Alex Young
Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Downing
Sterling, Shelvey, Lucas, Suso
Lowton, Baker, Lichaj, Clark
Agbonlahor, Bannan, Westwood, Herd
Liverpool top goalscorer Luis Suarez is available after serving a one-match ban and missing last weekend's comeback victory at West Ham.
Jose Enrique (hamstring) was taken off midway through the first half of the 3-2 win, but manager Brendan Rodgers branded it only "a precaution". The left-back is considered a doubt so Stewart Downing's continuing presence in the position is more likely.
Nuri Sahin (face) missed the win on Sunday and is also in line for a return after being withdrawn during the win over Udinese. Elsewhere, Martin Kelly (knee) and Fabio Borini (foot) are long-term absentees.
Paul Lambert has a long injury list, but Joe Bennett (knee), who missed Tuesday's Capital One Cup win over Norwich City could return. Captain Ron Vlaar (calf) and Enda Stevens (ankle) have not featured for three weeks so are unlikely to start.
Darren Bent (hamstring) was forced off in the win at Carrow Road in midweek with Lambert admitting he expects the striker to miss the next four weeks.
Long-term absentees Richard Dunne (groin) and Gary Gardner (knee) remain out for the foreseeable future.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Liverpool are undefeated in 20 of their last 22 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions.
- The Reds' win at West Ham last week sealed back-to-back league victories for the first time since December 2011.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 matches in the Premier League. The Reds are 11/2 to win 2-0 with bet365.
- Aston Villa have failed to win 15 of their last 16 away matches in the Premier League.
- Stewart Downing's (pictured right) last Premier League goal was for Aston Villa against Liverpool.
- No team has scored fewer goals in the opening 15 minutes than Villa this season.
- All three of top goalscorer Christian Benteke's Premier League goals have come at Villa Park.
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Top 3 Predictions
Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
- 20.25 %
Liverpool 3-0 Aston Villa
- 14.67 %
Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa
- 14.57 %
|Premier League (EPL)||24 Aug 2013||Aston Villa 0 - Liverpool 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||31 Mar 2013||Aston Villa 1 - Liverpool 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||15 Dec 2012||Liverpool 1 - Aston Villa 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||7 Apr 2012||Liverpool 1 - Aston Villa 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||18 Dec 2011||Aston Villa 0 - Liverpool 2|
|7 Dec 2013||Liverpool 4 - West Ham 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Liverpool 5 - Norwich City 1||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Hull City 3 - Liverpool 1||EPL|
|23 Nov 2013||Everton 3 - Liverpool 3||EPL|
|9 Nov 2013||Liverpool 4 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|8||Karim El Ahmadi||Midfielder|
|21||Jordan Nathaniel Bowery||Striker|
The right-back has been one of Liverpool's most consistent performers this term and grabbed his first goal of the season in the 3-2 win over West Ham last time out. Johnson has been able to impress despite a regularly changing right-wing partner and will likely be at his best again against Aston Villa's inexperienced charges.
Similarly, Aston Villa's right-back has also been a reliable face in a youthful team. The summer arrival has played in every one of the Villans' games this season and has been a stalwart during Paul Lambert's largely inconsistent first few months in charge. He will need to be at his best to stop an improving Liverpool side.
The comeback win against West Ham was the latest in a string of ever-improving performances by Liverpool. It appears Brendan Rodgers' ideals are slowly implementing themselves on the team. The Reds have won their last three on the trot in all competitions but Aston Villa are unbeaten in five, including an impressive away display over Norwich City in the Capital One Cup. However, Liverpool at home will be too strong for Paul Lambert's charges, especially with the returning Luis Suarez.