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VILLA v LIVERPOOL; KEY MEN: FABIAN DELPH v PHILIPPE COUTINHO.

FABIAN Delph is finally developing into the player that Villa fans were promised when he signed in 2009.

His injury problems now seem well behind him and he's managed to curb his over-eager tackles which have resulted in far too many yellow ds.

The 23-year-old is still gritty and tenacious but in a controlled and disciplined way.

Surprisingly, we're starting to see more of what Delph can do with the ball at his feet. He has a major role in this Villa team.

Keeping Phillipe Coutinho quiet STATS..................

Villa have conceded a goal in each of their last 11 Premier League matches at Villa Park. ||Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has scored seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances

SHORT & TWEET Teddy Dann: You could see by Mourinho's interview that we really rattled him...not many teams do that Ben Scott: In for a good season after what we look like in opening two games Martyn Hanks: If our form continues the hardest person to keep hold of in the summer could be Paul Lambert may be his most important task tomorrow.

The little magician is full of flair and creativity and has taken to the Premier League in an instant.

Believe it or not, he is Brazilian - a nationality that notoriously struggle in England's top flight.

But Coutinho is one of a host of young Samba stars starting to buck that trend.

His touch is smooth and silky while his vision is incredible.

With the current crop of emerging stars at Liverpool, the playmaker has players also on his wavelength.

FORM BOOK WHO'S HOT: Gabby Agbonlahor is in the form of his life according to Paul Lambert and it's hard to argue with that. WHO'S NOT: Poor Nathan Baker is out injured after getting the nod in central defence. It will be hard to get back in.

Gabby Agbonlahor.

LAST FIVE GAMES VILLA......................WWWWL LIVERPOOL.............WWWLW VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Okore, Clark, Luna, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Tonev, Sylla, Agbonlahor, Benteke, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Bacuna, Gardner, Steer, Bowery, Albrighton. Injured: N'Zogbia (Achilles), Herd (calf), Baker (ankle) Referee: M Clattenburg (Durham).

FORECAST: Win LAST TIME THEY MET March 31, 2013, Villa 1 Liverpool 2: Steven Gerrard's penalty won it for Liverpool after Jordan Henderson had cancelled out Christian Benteke's opener PLAYING BY NUMBERS 26 Goals Benteke has scored for Villa 24 Average age of last starting XI 3 Assists from Agbonlahor already this term.

30 Weeks without a game for Stephen Ireland.

HOW THEY STAND P W D L F A Pt Chelsea 2 200 41 6 ManCity 1 100 40 3 ManUtd 1 100 41 3 WestHam 1 100 20 3 Aston Villa 2 101 43 3 Fulham 1 100 10 3 Liverpool 1 100 10 3 Southampton 1 100 10 3 Spurs 1 100 10 3 Everton 1 010 22 1 Norwich 1 010 22 1 CrystalPalace 1 001 010 Stoke 1 001 010 Sunderland 1 001 010 WestBrom 1 001 010 Arsenal 1 001 13 0 diff 1 001 02 0 Hull 1 001 02 0 Swansea 1 001 14 0 Newcastle 1 001 04 0
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 23, 2013
Words:520
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