Liverpool vs. Aston Villa Preview
By Nick Webster
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has refused to get carried away with his team's form ahead of Aston Villa's visit to Anfield on Saturday.
Rodgers' men fought back for a 3-2 win over West Ham last week, Liverpool's third victory on the trot in all competitions, but after the match the Reds' manager rejected all questions on whether his team could challenge for the top four in the English Premier League.
Liverpool moved up to 10th after their win at Upton Park, just four points behind fourth-placed Everton, but Rodgers kept his response low key.
"We are just trying to build our momentum," Rodgers said.
"We had a difficult opening fixture list and coupling that with trying to play a certain way of football was always going to be difficult.
"Certainly over the past couple of months we have been progressing and just let's see where we finish."
Liverpool's next hurdle will be an improving Aston Villa side that have conceded just two goals in their past five fixtures.
Villa manager Paul Lambert has introduced a back three with wing-backs, who are encouraged to attack thanks to the coverage of dual holding players in midfield.
The change in formation has led to much-needed stability in defence for the Birmingham-based club and Matt Lowton, who has played out wide, believes Lambert's alteration has been a great move.
"We've kept three clean sheets in three of our last four games so that shows that we are all pulling together," Lowton told Aston Villa's website after their 0-0 draw with Stoke last week.
"We work together defensively during the week and I think it shows out there with the clean sheets that we are doing well."
Villa face a tough three-game period coming up with trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, plus a home clash against Tottenham, but their defensive improvement should give them some confidence.
Plus Lambert's side also easily accounted for Norwich City 4-1 in their League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
For Liverpool, one of the greatest aspects of the win over West Ham was that it came without Luis Suarez, who was suspended.
Glen Johnson, Joe Cole and an own goal from West Ham's James Collins gave Liverpool the win.
Suarez, Liverpool's leading attacker with 10 goals, will be available again to play Aston Villa but with Rodgers reportedly eyeing off Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge, Tom Ince of Blackpool and Dutch-based striker Alfred Finnbogason, the Uruguayan forward may not have to carry his side's attacking hopes alone for much longer.