31st August 2008 1600BST
It was the game that supposedly was set to be Gareth Barry’s less-than-triumphant return to Villa Park following his £10million+ transfer to the perennial 4th place finishers.
Rafa, take a good look on Sunday son, at the colour of shirt that Mr Barry will be wearing. Like it or lump it, (both Benitez and Barry) Gareth will be starting the match a Villan and will continue to be a Villan, at least until January.
It turns out that the one remaining promise of the Hicks/Gillet partnership, the glorious new Anfield with its brand new Kop, futuristic features and mind-blowing architecture, is a fraud. In a move somewhat akin to any suggestion that this countries Government should splash the cash, the gruesome Yankee twosome have managed to blame ‘the credit crunch` and the price of steel for an indefinite delay to Liverpool`s new home.
Could it happen to a nicer bunch of players, management staff, owners and last but most certainly least, supporters?
No I didn`t think so!
Previews, back, Villa = Money, Liverpool = Poor, lets go.
We start with Gareth Barry, who’s agent Alex Black announced that Gareth had informed the Villa management of his decision to stay two weeks ago, has naturally been quizzed on the fact that the Liverpool Vs Aston Villa game finds him starting the match in a claret and blue shirt. Here’s how he responded:
‘Will Sunday be strange? I am 100% for Villa. That won’t be strange.
‘I’ve spoken to the manager and I’ve no problem giving 100% for Aston Villa – and that will be starting against Liverpool on Sunday.
‘Will the fans all be behind me? All I can do is give 100% for the club. That is all the fans will want to see.’
Meanwhile, Villa new-boy Jimmy Milner, the man who said if ‘I can’t become a better player with Aston Villa, I’m not going to develop anywhere,’ has expressed his delight that former captain fantastic has decided he may well extend his stay at Villa Park a wee while longer:
Speaking to avfc.co.uk the former Newcastle winger said:
‘It’s a massive thing to keep Gareth. The fact that a club like Liverpool wanted him shows what a quality player he is. You don’t want to be losing players of that quality.’
Turning our beer-distracted attention towards manager Martin O’Neill has admitted he’s looking forward to tomorrows game, as it gives himself and his team a chance to benchmark their improvement against last years performances against RedScouse Untied.
He told avfc.co.uk:
I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. It’s a massive game for us.
‘Our last performance at Villa Park in the Premier League was outstanding and if we could get back to that type of form, we’re capable of winning the game.
‘This is a good benchmark for Aston Villa football club. We have been striving in the last two seasons to try and get up there. It might take a little bit longer but these teams are the yardstick for us.’
Yardsticks, benchmarks, all he needed to say was at the end of the day, he was sick as a parrot!
Oh dear dear dear, lets talk Liverpool.
‘Like many other major development projects in the UK and overseas we are affected by global market conditions.’
Yes gents, the £500million+ Olympic Stadium for example has struggled to be constructed. Go on Hicks & Gillet, name your delayed projects elsewhere!
Meanwhile Rafa Benitez has been talking tiredness, frost and wine when it comes to Stevie ‘tapper’ Gerrard and Rafa’s relationship with Martin O’Neill.
On the occasion of meeting O’Neill, with whom he has locked horns all summer regarding Gareth Barry, the ‘rotund waiter’ has said:
‘I don’t think we have a good relationship.’
‘If I have to say hello, I will say hello and I don’t have a problem. You ask me will we have a glass of wine together, but I don’t drink wine.’
I’m sure Martin won’t mind if you want a beer Rafa. As for ‘if’ you have to say hello, you’ve forgotten the FA’s new (pointless) initiative that as Ali G once said, is to increase R E S T E C P in the game.
Also, Rafa, continuing his journey into the realm of insanity, thinks that after just 3 weeks of the Premier League season, Steven Gerrard is tired!
Following the dismal England performance the Liverpool boss said:
‘Steven Gerrard is a little bit tired.
‘He did not train the day after the England game but he was back in training on Friday.’
AVFC Claret & Blues Team News:
Expect James Milner to be thrust straight into the starting line-up against Liverpool. King Kev (king? ha!) admitted that the transfer was rushed through to ensure he was available for Sunday’s match.
With whom he doth replace is the interesting bit, I think we’d all possibly hope it was Reo-Coker, progressively looking more and more woeful out on that right wing, perhaps not his fault mind.
The rest I’d hazard a guess will remain un-changed, unless Marty rests one of the two centre-backs for the possible inclusion of Carlos Cuellar.
We may finally see Stuart Taylor replaced on the bench by Brad Guzan, but who knows!
Player to watch: John Carew
He’s bigger than me, you, and most of Liverpool’s defence bar perhaps the man with no vowels, Skrtl.
I think he’ll punch through 20 goals this year, so expect him to crack on with it against Liverpool.
Liverpool Paupers Team News:
Few of us really care, but lets get it over and done with.
Javier Mascherano may feature despite having only recently arrived from the Olympics in Beijing. Steven Gerrard is out with a ‘groin strain’ read: tired.
Sammy Hypia is also a doubt.
Player to watch: Fernando Torres
How he signed for Liverpool instead of us I don’t know.
Defenders will have their work cut out, perhaps a job for Cuellar?
I’ve been wracking my brains over a tune, and picked one that links Liverpool, with the fact I am writing this preview after waking up 14 hours ago! Enjoy!
Liverpool is the 2008 Capital of Culture…
…except it isn’t really, as it shares this honour with Stavanger.
Oh, and also Sandnes.
Ignoring Liverpool (the place is over-hyped anyway,) Stavanger is the place to go if you wish to visit a Petroleum Museum.
Meanwhile, Sandes is definitely one for the summer holiday (vacation) list if you perhaps have a distinct interest in bicycles.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is top scorer this season of the entire league when counting cup goals, having notched 4 in total.
Marlon Harewood isn’t set for what would be his 300th league start.
The ref for the match is Mr Martin Atkinson who hails from W.Yorkshire.
So far Mr Atkinson has managed an average of 2 yellows per game, across his 2 Premier League Fixtures!
Lawro shockingly said a Villa win.
Mystic Murph says 3-1 Villa. Mystic Mug may be along later.
Next Villa play Spurs on the 15th September after the International break.