Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Redknapp: Attacking Liverpool will have too much for Aston Villa
Never mind the title, top four is ample reward for Liverpool's attacking line-up, says Jamie Redknapp.
Last Updated: 17/01/14 6:41pm
When everyone's fit, Liverpool have got more attacking options than they've had in an awfully long time and in Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling they have players that can win you matches.
Against Stoke on Sunday the game was getting stretched and Liverpool's attacking style left them open at times but it's great to watch and I think that's what Liverpool fans want.
For a few years under Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier that wasn't the case; during that time Liverpool wouldn't throw men forward like they do at the moment.
The form of those forwards leaves Rodgers with a dilemma this weekend, though. Does he, at home against an Aston Villa side struggling for confidence (Liverpool are odds-on with Sky Bet to beat), go with both Sturridge - who scored on his return from injury at the Britannia - and Suarez?
That could mean benching Coutinho, who has done really well while Sturridge was out or replacing Jordan Henderson, who's been in great form, or maybe Lucas.
Because Liverpool aren't involved in Europe they have got the luxury of playing Saturday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday. Although that gives players the chance to rest, recover and get ready for the next game, it also causes you a problem because you can't give everyone game time.
It's a tough decision for Rodgers but essentially it's the sort of problem he wants to have.
Liverpool have been getting good results despite Sturridge's absence and people are talking about them being in the race for the title.
That's where they should be and what Liverpool fans want - but this is unchartered territory for a lot of their players.
I wonder if Rodgers, deep down, would take fourth place and a Champions League spot now. My guess is he would.
Liverpool to secure a Champions League spot 4/6 with Sky Bet. Bet now
We all want to be successful in football and last week Samir Nasri said Liverpool are the best side City have played against this season. But, if you consider where Liverpool were at the start of this campaign, finishing in the top four, given the quality of the other teams going for a Champions League spot, would be a good achievement for them.
There's Chelsea, who have spent an awful lot of money, Manchester City, who are incredibly strong and getting better and better, an Arsenal side in a great position, Tottenham, who look like a better side under Tim Sherwood, plus Everton and Manchester United, so a Champions League spot would be a real mark of how far Liverpool have progressed this year.
Liverpool have got Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea to play at home, too, which gives them a chance of scoring some vital points over some of their fellow top four challengers. However, there's a long way to go and a lot of tough teams to overcome.
In contrast to Liverpool, who only trail Man City in the goal scoring stats, Aston Villa have scored fewer goals than any side outside of the bottom three, apart from Norwich.
A major reason behind that stat is the goal drought last season's revelation, Christian Benteke, has endured.
The Belgian finally ended his four-month wait for a goal against Arsenal last weekend - and Villa desperately need him to kick on now and start firing.
Last year he was so aggressive when the ball was in the box that he was almost unplayable. This year, though, he seems to be waiting for the ball - and that's not his game.
He's a beast of a man and his work rate, desire and ability to batter opponents made him a real handful. Perhaps he needs to go back to those basics.
It's been a terrible run for a player of his quality, though. We all spoke about the great job Paul Lambert did in keeping him in the summer and that keeping hold of Benteke was his best bit of business, but if Lambert had known he was going to perform like this he'd have been happy to have sold him and got someone else in.
Villa have recruited Grant Holt on loan and, although it's not worked out for him at Wigan in the Championship, Lambert, who worked with him at Norwich, will be hoping he can add some vital experience to his young squad.
A couple of years ago people were talking about Holt playing for England - and he's certainly very good at bringing others into play - but just to have him around the dressing room will be as important as anything else.
Villa certainly need a spark from somewhere. If it wasn't for their away form, which has seen them win four out of ten, they would be dead and buried by now because their home form has been horrendous. They've dropped 25 points at Villa Park this season.
They've won four of their ten games away from home but, although they beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield last season I can't see them repeating that result this time around. In fact, I expect the reverse.
Jamie's backing Liverpool to beat Villa 3-1 at 10/1 with Sky Bet. Bet now
Liverpool will have too much quality and Villa centre-backs Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark will be having sleepless nights about facing Suarez, whether he's partnered by Sturridge or not.
They're not the only defenders who will be feeling that way this season but I can't see any way they can stop him scoring; they can't mark him tightly and match him for pace and Villa don't have someone to sit in front of the defence and stop balls being played into him.
Suarez is doing some incredible things at the moment and he can fire Liverpool to a 3-1 win this weekend.