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Liverpool look for Balotelli boost against Villa

The international break may have come too soon for Brendan Rodgers, whose Liverpool side were just getting into their stride for the season with a 3-0 away win against Tottenham last time out.

Against Aston Villa, they are odds-on at 1/4, and annoyingly for Rodgers striker Daniel Sturridge was injured in training on duty with England. As a result, the Reds boss is expected to call on new signing Mario Balotelli, who started against Spurs, and could partner Rickie Lambert in attack, who set up Danny Welbeck’s second goal in England’s 2-0 win over Switzerland.

Balotelli scored six goals in four appearances against Villa in all competitions when he played for Manchester City, and will be looking to re-open his Premier League account in front of what will be a full-to-capacity Anfield crowd. The enigmatic Italian is 7/2 to score the opener for Liverpool, and 4/1 strike on two or more occasions, having previously hit a hat-trick against the West Midlands outfiy.

Rodgers earlier this week expressed his frustration at Sturridge’s injury, claiming it is one that could have been avoided. “We’re disappointed because we feel it was an injury which could have been prevented,” he said.

“I think clubs work differently at times to international teams. When we look at our players here we look at them individually in terms of what their needs are,” continued the Northern Irishman.

“Fast players would have a second day recovery while other players can work on that day. When you are that type of quick player like Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and boys like Danny Welbeck, you need to recover them.”

The Liverpool boss will have been encouraged by Sterling’s sublime contribution for England, after Roy Hodgson picked him in the same position at the head of a diamond, which was a carbon copy of Rodgers’ own successful system.

Sterling has two goals and one assist to his name for the Merseyside outfit this term, and stole the show last time out at White Hart Lane, netting the first goal. He is 9/2 to repeat that feat against Paul Lambert’s side.

New boy Alberto Moreno notched a stunner against Spurs, and is 8/1 to net anytime from an attacking left back berth.

Villa, meanwhile, could have a hard task on their hands. No doubt pleased with Fabian Delph’s contribution for the Three Lions, Lambert is likely to hand him a starring role, and the former Leeds United man is 8/1 to net anytime with his side overwhelming outsiders at 10/1 for the win with Coral.

The West Midlands club, though, have enjoyed a bright start to life in the Premier League this season, as they sit third on seven points in the league and are yet to lose. Austrian attacker Andreas Weimann is currently the Villans’ leading marksman with two strikes, and 10/3 to net anytime against the Reds.

Villa, however, have lost just one of their last five fixtures at Anfield, no doubt a statistic which will give the squad encouragement. Tom Cleverley is in contention to make his debut for the away side, since his loan switch from Manchester United, and is 8/1 to net anytime, while centre back Ron Vlaar is a doubt with a calf injury, and this could be the deciding factor in the end result.