Welcome back Gérard, Villa voicings

So our first weekend of nothingness this season.

It’s a doubled edged feeling playing on Monday as we do tonight against Aston Villa. We’re missing out on playing whilst everyone else is however, we have had an extra day to recover from the Steaua game and the trip home an otherwise dull Monday night should be livened up!

Of course the visit of tonight’s opponents sees the return of Gérard Houllier to Anfield for first time in competitive guise. Houllier’s tenure at Anfield sees to have taken a fair few knocks recently. However I guess one should remember that he did win five trophies and was responsible for overseeing the side in what he saw as a period of change. Phil Thompson in today’s Guardian commented…

“The fans don’t truly appreciate what he did for this club. Gérard worked tirelessly behind the scenes, rebuilding the team and wresting power from the players he inherited. That was his legacy — making Liverpool more disciplined, more professional, and that means as much to Gérard as the trophies he won.”

I think they did at the time and Houllier could rightly point to winning a cup treble in 2001 and finishing second in the league the following year as evidence of this improvement. Only Houllier will know how much his heart problems effected the rest of his time with us but sadly the momentum could not sustained and names of Bruno Cheyrou, Salif Diao and El Hadji Doiuf (did we really pay £10 million for him?) will be remembered as evidence of his policy off the pitch and tactics on it going astray just as much as the trophies two years before?

Nonetheless one should remember that the side that won in Istanbal contained many of Houllier’s signings. I also still smile when I think of the FA Cup final at Cardiff which saw Michael Owen steal the cup from under Arsenal’s nose.

Houllier visits Anfield with an Aston Villa side that have own only one of there last nine league matches while we are going for our fourth successive home win. Stats of course mean sod all particularly as everyone seems to be beating or losing to everyone else in the Premiership at present. Even though we lost our last game at Spurs I think there was much to take the most important thing being is that we had a more positive approach. We’ve shown this more regularly at home of course and everyone will be expecting that to continue.

Team wise we are now without Jamie Carragher who injured his shoulder in that game so presumably Kyrgiakos will partner Martin Skrtel? Clearly HRH will field a completely different side to the one that played Steaua. Sadly it is too early for Steven Gerrard to make a return from his hamstring injury and there were rumours that he had aggravated his injury in training however HRH appears to have scuppered this one.

“… the medical people have had a look at him and said it was nothing, it was only scar tissue. It’s fine and when he went back to training again he was fine. It’s not a setback to his planned comeback and he should be fine.”

Prediction? Hopefully we can build on the good stuff we played at Spurs? We are at home and Villa, on form at least, should provide less sterner opposition however one can take nothing for granted and I’ve no doubt Houllier will want an extra special effort for this one. Cleary a win is imperative at present, we must win or home games whilst we are so ropey n the road and I take us to do that, 2-0.

By the way By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of most games, against Aston Villa since this date click here.

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