A little over a year ago, Aston Villa thumped Liverpool 3-1 in what was surely the lowest ebb of Rodgers reign so far. Since then Liverpool have come in leaps and bounds are unlike the last time these two teams faced off at Anfield, only one team is perilously close to the relegation, and it is not Liverpool.
Indeed, since December, Aston Villa have only won two matches in the Premier League. In that same period they have drawn once and lost five. This run of form has plunged Villa right into the relegation battle, cut adrift from the upper half.
The main reason for this poor form has been Villa's terrible luck in front of goal. Their tally of 20 goals all season is the 4th worst in the whole league and since December, they have only netted 7 in 8 matches.
Last season they were similarly weak in front of goal, the difference then was Benteke was in fantastic form. At his best he is a menace that pummels defences with his pace and strength. He also possesses the awareness to play in his team mates and get involved in his teams build up play. This season he has not been able to do that and it is no surprise Villa have suffered alongside - he really is the glue to their attack. Villa will hope his goal against Arsenal will spark a return to the form he was in before his injury.
Given that Liverpool are weak defensively, particularly against pacey and powerful attackers, Benteke has all the motivation needed to come to his team's aid.
In each of his three games against Liverpool, Benteke has caused immeasurable damage. In his first match he scored two goals and set up another in the 3-1 victory. In the next he scored Villa's sole goal. In the last he did not score, but he caused a lot of problems as a Sturridge wonder goal won them the game.
Lambert is most likely to deploy Benteke against Kolo Toure as he is the most susceptible in the air. He has only won 25 of his 61 aerial duels. When you factor in Skrtle's aggressive nature in the box and the weaknesses of the Liverpool full backs, Villa will have many chances.
Against Arsenal, Villa showed that they are incredibly prone to through balls through the middle. You only have to look at the through ball table to see that is Liverpool's main strength - only Arsenal have as many players as Liverpool in the top 20 (5).
Rodgers would be wise not to overload the attack, however. In several matches this season, namely: Newcastle, Everton, Chelsea and Stoke, Liverpool have been overrun in the middle by teams possessing strong, powerful, fatigue-less midfielders. If Rodgers decides to take out any of his midfield to accommodate Sturridge back into the team, the will be left chasing shadows.
No team in the league is built with as many athletic players as Aston Villa and if the Arsenal match showed anything, it is that Villa hate it when their opposition has packed the middle and is passing the ball in circles around them.
However, if they are allowed space, they will break quickly and Liverpool have shown so many times they cannot deal with that level of attackers coming quickly at them.
What I am certain of however, is that there will be plenty of goals in this for both teams.
Liverpool 2-3 Aston Villa