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Preview: Villa the form side ahead of Liverpool clash

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For perhaps the first time all year, Villa are in better form than their opponent entering Sunday’s clash with Liverpool. But can the Claret and Blues keep the spirit up and move within two wins of safety?

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It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

But Christian Benteke and Liverpool have been far from a match made in heaven since the player’s £32.5 million move to Merseyside in the summer. So that means he’s definitely bagging a hat trick tomorrow, right?

What to know about Villa

Villa aren’t playing poorly at all right now. But when you look at yesterday’s results, it further underscores Aston Villa’s need to simply focus on itself until the end of the season. The task isn’t small — no fewer than seven wins will be required — and it necessitates a win against an out-of-form Liverpool side.

Gabby Agbonlahor put on a really nice performance last time out in the 2-0 win over Norwich City, a win that teased us more than a little bit on the idea that survival was possible, and the rest of the squad put in the type of shift we’ve seen the last five matches that have shown Rémi Garde’s merits as a manager.

Jordan Ayew will still be out, as he serves the second game of his three-match suspension, but that doesn’t mean Villa still can’t find ways to nick results. If you look at Villa’s four goals in won matches this season, you’ll find a common trend — one from a free kick, two from corners and one from Gabby getting behind the defence. Get them how you can. That’s what the Claret and Blues need to do if they’re going to somehow see out a miracle.

What to know about Liverpool

Things aren’t going particularly well over in Merseyside. They spent £32.5 million on a striker who didn’t fit their tactics, or the tactics of the guy everyone knew would be managing the club by season’s end, and are surprised that it’s not working out.

Man!

Then again, as an out of form side — the Reds have just five points from their last six games and crashed out of the FA Cup midweek at Upton Park — there’s no better place to come than Villa Park, where bad sides suddenly look good.

We’ll see. They’re an… interesting side right now.

But at the end of the day, these are the types of matches Villa need to win. Sure, Liverpool will put out a side that’s simply better than Villa’s at pretty much every position. That always happens with the big clubs. But the Claret and Blues need to find a way to overcome that — a spirited, intense effort may well do the trick.

The odds

Bovada: Villa 37/10, Liverpool 4/5, Draw 49/20
Paddy Power: Villa 7/2, Liverpool 17/20, Draw 5/2
SkyBet: Villa 18/5, Liverpool 5/6, Draw 12/5

The prediction

I don’t know. I want to think Villa can win this but don’t think they will. Gabby bags another goal, but Benteke scores late to cancel it out.

Villa 1, Liverpool 1