Robbie Keane, Karim Benzema and Michael Owen on Houllier’s hit list

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After a disappointing defeat at the hands of local rivals Birmingham City in midweek, Aston Villa will be looking to make their good play count, but this trip to Anfield will be a week too soon for Gerard Houllier.

Villa will feel aggrieved with results of late as they have been on good form. The Villans were the better team against Manchester United for the majority of the game, Arsenal were sensational first half, but Villa were on top in the second.

Birmingham seemed to be happy to let their rivals have the ball and dominate, but Villa just couldn’t penetrate the Blues’ defence.

This shows what Houllier’s men need in January, and with the recent transfer links it seems it will be who, not if they will sign a striker in the New Year.

Former Liverpool man, Robbie Keane is the latest to be linked with a move to the Midlands, and he joins Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, who worked under Villa boss Houllier at Lyon, and Michael Own, another player who played for Houllier.

These names are just the strikers that have been linked with a move to Villa Park, and this is where most supporters would like to see money spent, with John Carew said to be off in the summer, and that would leave Villa with only three fit, first team forwards Gabby Agbonlahor, Nathan Delfouneso and Emile Heskey.

A bigger squad is what Villa need. Injuries have left the squad thread bare, and that has meant some young players have been thrown in at the deep end, the likes of Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan especially.

Saturday's results and Villa’s recent form has seen the Midlanders drop down the league table. The inconsistent form now see’s the Villa 15th and falling further behind the top half of the table.

This has been down to the injuries you would say, and the players that have been out have all had a big impact on the Villa form this year, it has been in all positions as well, Richard Dunne and James Collins have both suffered at times, Nigel Reo-Coker, Steve Sidwell and skipper Stiliyan Petrov have all been missing for the bigger games, and all look set to be sidelined for some of the festive period.

Villa go in to the game against Liverpool hoping that midfield maestro Bannan can shrug off a knock that saw the young Scot leave the field against Birmingham, but have been boosted by Emile Heskey and Marc Albrighton’s return to training, although the trip to Anfield may be too early for the two to return.

Ashley Young misses the trip after picking up his fifth booking of the season at Birmingham, so it seems that Houllier will have to play Stephen Ireland and Robert Pires, unless Bannan can shake off his knock.

Liverpool are missing the influential pairing of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard so it is likely that Sotirios Kyrgiakos will play in defence and Joe Cole came through the game against Bucharest Thursday so he will be eager to start in the Premier League for the first time in six games.

Prediction – Liverpool will be too strong for a weak Villa side. 2-0 home win.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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