The return from international play is not a happy one for Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge injured himself while training with England. The injury obviously causes some concern for Brendan Rodgers – does he continue to use the 4-3-1-2 from the match against Tottenham, or should he shift back to a 4-2-3-1 like he did in the first two games of the season? If he goes for the 4-3-1-2, who will start beside, I assume, Mario Balotelli? For this match, I will preview the 4-3-1-2 formation with a small section at the end of the article which will be about the player who could enter the side if the manager goes with the 4-2-3-1. The one silver lining to all of these issues is that they are playing Aston Villa, a club that, despite its third-place standing on the league table, has yet to face a top opponent like Liverpool.
Simon Mignolet will continue to start most games this season. He will be getting some valuable help in terms of experience, as it looks like Victor Valdes could be joining the club after his departure from Barcelona. The Belgian could learn many things from Valdes, since he has played in some of the biggest stages in the world.
Javier Manquillo impressed again in the last match, he did however, pick up another yellow card, which is definitely something he should try to reduce. He is an aggressive player for sure, but he should avoid getting suspended as much as possible, since that means he could miss some crucial games later on. The Spaniard has adjusted well to the physicality of his new home, and he should be able to take over the right back slot this season, since Glen Johnson continues to disappoint both his manager and fans.
The pairing of Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren made its debut in the last match and they did not disappoint. They stifled a red hot Tottenham attack and made sure that the team got its first clean sheet of the season. The combination has the speed, power and instincts to be one of the best in the league, and the only thing they really lack is time playing with each other.
After an unsuccessful debut against Manchester City, Alberto Moreno showed in the match against Tottenham why Liverpool brought him into the squad. Aside from his excellent goal, he contained Erik Lamela and dominated his side of the field. Look for him to continue to improve, as the season goes along and he gets used to the less technical, but more physical Premier League.
The industrious trio of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson dominated the midfield against Tottenham. The three of them allow Liverpool to control the game, however, Henderson could miss the game due to injury. If Henderson misses the match, Rodgers has some capable replacements in Adam Lallana and Emre Can. Both could also replace Allen in the line up if needed. The retirement of Gerrard from international play is looking good, as he was able to get some much needed rest the past two weeks.
At the top of the midfield, Raheem Sterling once again showed why he is one of the best young talents in the world. Coming off another stellar performance for his national team, Sterling will have to continue his sizzling form against Villa since Sturridge is out. Since he is young and coming off international duty, Rodgers may decide to rest him and play Philippe Coutinho in his place since the Brazilian did not play in the last match.
I believe that Mario Balotelli will still start this game after making his debut two weeks ago. Rodgers has two candidates to replace his star striker in Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert. Both have yet to start a game this season in the Premier League and both are far less talented than their teammate. However, both are proven scorers in the league, and should be able to play well beside Balotelli.
If Rodgers decides to go with the 4-2-3-1 instead, either Lallana or Coutinho will most likely be the players chosen to start. The England international could be chosen over Coutinho, since he has yet to make his Premier League debut for his new club and Rodgers has been itching to play his new signing.