Preview Week comes to end with a quick preview of our season opener…
Liverpool at Aston Villa
5pm (Noon EST) Saturday, August 11th
The Lowdown: It’s the first league match of the season, so there are no points, goals, or recent form to compare. Last season, the fixture at Villa Park ended in a nil-nil draw (3-1 at Anfield).
Expectations for the upcoming season are high for both clubs. Liverpool know they’ll need a quick start in the league, as they can’t afford to spot their rivals any sort of lead. Aston Villa are looking to build on a solid season and aim to finish in the top half of the table and European qualification. The long road starts on Saturday.
Liverpool have a fully fit squad, Villa are without starting goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen
5 Questions To Be Answered:
How many of Liverpool’s new buys will be handed their debut at Villa Park?
How will the thin Villa defence fare without Sorensen?
Will a new-look Liverpool attack be able to break down defensive teams, like ‘draw specialists’ Villa, away from Anfield?
Will this be a break-out season for Villa’s youthful striker, Ashley Young?
When Scott Carson arrives at Villa on loan, will he be able to hold down the starting job?
Now that Preview Week is over, let’s review the non-preview aspects of the past week. (Got that? Or did I lose ya?)
As mentioned earlier, Rafa has done a U-turn on Scott Carson’s immediate future and agreed to let him spent another season on loan in order to gain more first team experience. His departure would leave David Martin as Pepe’s understudy, which is worrying should Reina find himself unable to play. Carson did wonders for Charlton last campaign and would be a smart signing for Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa. Rafa has this to say about the situation:
We were talking before about this, Scott and me, he wants to play every game, every week. We are analysing the situation and if we can do something, Aston Villa is very interested, then maybe it will be an option.
I explained to him we need another goalkeeper because we cannot say he can leave if we don’t have a very good goalkeeper. We are working on this and if everything can be done we will try to help him.
We want to send Scott on loan, we don’t want to sell him, and if we can do this then I think it can be positive for everyone.
- Because of this situation, Liverpool look set to sign 24-year old Lens goalkeeper Charles Itandje. The former French U-21 net minder had previously been linked with Manchester United, Lyon, Real Betis and Aston Villa. Should the transfer be completed quickly enough, Itandje will be eligible for next week’s Champions League qualifier in Toulouse and Carson can ship out to Villa. Should the transfer be held up, Carson will stay for the both the qualifiers before going out on loan.
- The Reds have been linked with a £6.8M move for Real Madrid fullback Cicinho. I believe the 27-year old plays on the right and I believe Rafa would be more interested in Heinze and/or a younger, quality center back. Roma are also said to be interested in the Brazilian. I don’t think this rumor has any legs.
- As for Gabriel Heinze, a Premier League commission will hear his case later this month. Rafa had this to say:
The situation with Heinze is very clear and I am confident in the outcome. I am not looking for any other left-back.
- Pepe Reina won the Barclays Golden Glove award for the second year in a row. 19 clean sheets in the league was enough to land him the honor, but Pepe is as humble as ever:
This is not my trophy. It’s recognition of the work of our defenders as well as the other players in the team. We are a special group at Liverpool and that is why we have had some success over recent seasons.
I would say our defence is a ten out of ten unit. There is such a determination not to concede goals and hopefully we’ll be able to reproduce our best form throughout the coming season. For me, clean sheets aren’t the most important thing. If I keep one at Aston Villa this weekend then great, but if I don’t and we still win the game then that’s great as well.