As I said before, this column is gonna cover all that interests me. So today we talk about Liverpool FC. It was Match Day 5 for Group K of the UEFA Europa League in the round of 32 group stages for the Reds today as they faced off against Steaua Bucharest. With so many injuries including those to Captain Steven Gerrard, Vice-Captain Jaime Carragher, Daniel Agger, as well as recovering Joe Cole and Fabio Aurelio it is continuing to test the depth of our squad. Manager Roy Hodgson is learning more and more about his players through the injuries and the inconsistency of regular starters is continuing to have an affect on the team's form.
The tactics of the Englishman are also taking time to be fully instilled in the squad and as a result it is a continued case of trial and error. The loss to Tottenham in the dying minutes of stoppage time on Saturday left the fans and the players with an awful taste in their mouth and the hopes of a victory on a European night gave hope. However, another lackluster display against an opponent whom on paper is still below par against the second team saw us limp to only a draw, granted the draw sees the Reds through to the Knockout stage of the competition, but against this level of opponent a victory is expected of a club of Liverpool's stature.
The goal by Jovanovic hopefully will continue to build his confidence as it has been lacking as of late, and the much needed rest given to the majority of the first team will aid in the crucial match against Aston Villa on the weekend. With the Reds sitting adrift at 10th in the English Premier League it is not the way I wanted to see this season start to shape up. If we do not start to pick up soon we will be lucky to qualify for even the Europa League next year which would be a tragedy for the Reds and most likely cost us many of our top echelon of the squad.
In an early look at Saturday's match against Aston Villa I am expecting a return to the pitch of the majority of the players employed at White Heart Lane this past weekend. Anfield Road and the Kop are sure to be in full voice as our boys fight desperately to keep the hopes of a strong second half alive. We need to strengthen in January and find Torres a strike partner that is up to his class.
Aston Villa have been in a up and down start to their campaign much like the Reds. Having changed Managers, and dealing with many injuries in many of the same respects the Villans are as desperate for a victory as the Reds. New Villa Manager Gerard Houllier, whom was successful as the Reds manager in domestic and foreign cups(Not the EPL Title so desperately craved) during his time at Anfield, is also dealing with inconsistency and the time needed to implement his own tactical system just as Hodgson. Much of the match this weekend will depend on whom gets through to their team the most. The Draw for the Reds should lift spirits now that progression is assured in the Europa League. Villa's crash out of the Carling Cup to Birmingham will have an affect on the fitness and mental state of the club come match time.
I am predicting a hard fought battle between the two clubs with both teams playing hard out of frustration and desperation to push for a better record before the holiday. Liverpool 2 - Aston Villa 1 in a physical game in front of the Kop.
Predicted Liverpool Starting XI for the Weekend:
Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Aurelio, Lucas, Poulsen, Kuyt, Maxi, Meireles, Torres
Predicted Aston Villa Starting XI for the Weekend:
Friedel, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, L. Young, Bannon, Clark, Pires, A. Young, Downing, Carew
All I can say is Walk on you Reds with Hope in your Heart, and You Will Never Walk Alone.