Aston Villa vs Leicester City – Pre-Game Assessment

Brendan Rodgers must be ruing his misfortune that, after coming so close to winning the Premier League as Liverpool’s manager back in 2014 before being pipped at the post by Manchester City, a pattern has emerged.  It seems that misfortune must be his middle-name given how it took a combination of bizarre events to undo that Red team, one of them being the uncharacteristic slip by none other than the ever so reliable Steven Gerrard that gifted the ball to Dembe Ba in their home game against Chelsea.  Ba gratefully ran down the field and thumped the ball into the back of the net and the Blues went on to win the game (2-0) and gifted the league title to Man City.

The next season (2015), Rodgers failed again to win the league and Liverpool finished 6th.  Early in the following season, he was sacked and the following season (2016), he was hired as the Manager of Glasgow Celtic where he won six trophies in 4 seasons and continued their Scottish Premier League domination. 

Gerrard, meanwhile, was hired as manager of Glasgow Rangers in 2018.  Rodgers won the first couple of Old Firm fixtures against his former Reds player before Gerrard’s Rangers eventually prevailed breaking Celtics’ 12-game winning streak.

When Rodgers left Celtic to take over Leicester City in 2019, Celtic was still dominant and went on to win the Scottish League that year and the next.  However, Gerrard’s Rangers were gaining ground and, in 2021, they not only broke Celtic’s string of league wins at nine but did so without losing a single match.

With Rodgers currently feeling the pressure of being in unfamiliar territory for the Foxes, in the middle of the table and with a daunting injury list: Tielemans, Fofana, Justin, and Ricardo, an unconvincing looking bench, and a demanding Europa League commitment, the last person he would want to be facing is his old comrade and new rival, Steven Gerrard.

Rodgers must envy everything that Gerrard has that he doesn’t: wealthy ownership that has stocked up the team with international stars, a management and coaching staff of the highest caliber, a 42,000 capacity stadium that he can fill (King Stadium’s is 25% less), and a goalie that, as well as being world class, is 6’4”.  Does a goalie’s size matter?  Well, the Barkley shot that beat Schmeichel in King Stadium to beat the Foxes 1-0 last October was a fingertip away from the goalie’s reach – less than 2” – Emi’s height advantage.

It all adds to a game that Villa should win, maybe with some breathing space: 3-1.

UTV.

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