The busy festive season begins in earnest for Liverpool and Aston Villa when they clash at Villa Park on Sunday.
Alex McLeish side have struggled for large parts of the season their failure to turn draws into win not just impacting their league position with the club currently sitting 9th but also with the Villains faithful who have become somewhat disillusioned with the style of play.
Villa have drawn 7 of their 15 games so far this season however the signs that could turning the corner were witnessed last weekend when they recorded only their fourth win of the season with a 2-1 win over Bolton.
Liverpool meanwhile will look to keep their push for European football next season going strong when they visit Aston Villa on Sunday.
Kenny Dalglish’s side are currently sitting in sixth place in the English Premier League some 12 behind leaders Manchester City but very much in the race for the Champions league spots just five points off third place Chelsea.
While Liverpool have suffered just three defeats all season, their failure to kill off games have seen them draw five games, the third worst record in the league after Villa, although all those dropped points have come at home.
Last weekend saw them finally end a run of four home games without a win, a run stretching back to September, when they beat QPR with Luis Suarez scoring the only goal of the game.
The Uruguayan international’s preparation for the game has one again being overshadowed by the ongoing racism row and although the 24 year old will be pleased with the ongoing support of his boss, the Scot continuing the theme of support for the under pressure forward saying “We are standing right beside him and helping him as much as we possibly can
Brad Guzan continues in the Villa goal with Shay Given out injured while Stiliyan Petrov, who scored last weekend against Bolton, also set for an extended run following the season ending injury to Jermaine Jenas.
That means that Stephen Ireland will once again have to contend with a place on the bench.
Liverpool will be without midfield pair Lucas and Steven Gerrard, who is slowly be edged back into the first team, while Jay Spearing sits out the second game of his three match suspension for his sending off against Fulham. Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam will form the midfield pair with Stewart Downing, who scored the winner when the two sides met at Villa Park at the tail end of last season, set to face his former club for the first time in a red shirt.
The England winger has so far failed to reach the heights of last season as he continues to adapt to his new surroundings and Sunday offer the perfect opportunity to get his season on track.
Despite the cloud hanging over Suarez, this season’s reds talisman should start, the only big decision as to whether Dalglish sticks with the misfiring Andy Carroll or opts to move Dirk Kuyt up front with the free scoring Maxi coming on the right.
Prediction: Aston Villa are currently 7/2 to grab a win with Betfair who acknowledge the impressive away form of Liverpool who are evens Despite a one nil loss last time out and a narrow 1-0 win over QPR last weekend I fancy Liverpool for a 2-1 win at odds of 9/1