Laursen Blog: Wearing that Villa badge at Anfield is amazing
Martin Laursen on Liverpool, Christian Benteke and Brad Guzan.
14th Dec 2012
Laursen Blog: Wearing that Villa badge at Anfield is amazing


There's no doubt this weekend brings-up one of the most exciting fixtures in the calendar - Liverpool v Villa!

I loved playing at Anfield. The place has got a great history, the fans sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before you come out on to the pitch, it's something you can only enjoy.

I felt very proud before I entered the arena. I was the captain leading my team into battle. It was massive.

These stadiums that have so much history, that you have heard so much about, you have seen games on the television, to be able to play there you should be really up for it.

We have a lot of young, emerging players. The future is bright for Villa under Paul Lambert in my opinion. And this will be a good test for these guys.

Some of our players have probably never played at Anfield before, those like Matt Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Andreas Weimann.

They have done fantastically well so far and this will be a great occasion for them.

I always believe that it's fine playing Liverpool at a packed Villa Park with the crowd behind you. But it's tough to play Liverpool at Anfield with the fans on your back.

That's why it's a good test - but one I think our players can thrive in!

The guys should be fully focused and follow the manager's instructions to the letter but also they should enjoy the experience. That way they will produce their best, in my opinion!

Before they enter the pitch, they need to think about just what it means to be wearing that Villa badge in a big match against Liverpool at Anfield.

Then they need to go out and give it absolutely everything. Don't hold anything back! Don't leave anything out there!

Villa can win the game, no question. The win at Norwich should give them confidence.

It was a fantastic victory and a tremendous performance. They need to play that way again. More of the same please! They need that confidence to flow again.


Benteke

I think Christian Benteke will be key at Anfield. If he plays well, Villa play well.

I believe he can give the likes of Daniel Agger and Martin Skytel real problems on Saturday. He's great.

I have already talked a lot about him whenever I've been asked about Villa in my media work.

He is so, so strong, he works his socks off, he's a part of everything Villa does.

He's the focal point of the team. He's involved in throw-ins, corner-kicks, everything really. He is very, very important.

I know the fans love him, they have really taken to him and he'll love that respect from the crowd. It's an amazing feeling - I know all about it!

I know what it's like to be a favourite with the fans. He has it now. It's a massive honour and you feel so proud.

You know that you have done something good when they sing your name. You can sense that they are happy with you and what you're doing for the team.

You want to continue doing well for them - you want to hear them shouting your name all the time, in every game and many times during the game!

I think Laursen v Benteke would have been a good clash! I'm not sure if I could have won that battle?

Unfortunately, no-one will ever know. The fans will never see it.

But he's a great player. He's perfect for the Premier League in the way he plays. He will be a massive success for Aston Villa.


Guzan

Another player I'd like to pick out is Brad Guzan, who I was with at Villa during my very happy there.

I am delighted for him that he is playing regularly in the Premier League now.

He wasn't doing that when I was there because Brad Friedel was in such good form - and still is!

Brad Friedel played every league game. He never got injured. That was amazing!

It was difficult for Brad Guzan to get in because Brad Friedel was playing so well. But we could all see he was a good professional and he was a great goalkeeper.

It is great to see him playing first team football now at Villa after so many years of being second goalkeeper.

Even during his time as No.2, his role was vital, in my opinion. He brought quality to the training sessions. I am sure Brad Friedel would say that he performed well week-in and week-out thanks to Brad Guzan.

He was very professional and worked so, so hard. He provided that competition and good work ethic in training at Bodymoor.

People like Brad Guzan are the sort of people you want to be successful. You want them to do well. I am delighted he has a place in the team now.

He's playing very, very well too. He shouts, he helps out his defensive players, he helps the whole team with the way he plays. He's very vocal and that's one of the most important things as a goalkeeper.

He's very secure with his feet, he's a good shot-stopper, he's excellent in the air, he's superb.

He can be Villa's goalkeeper for the next 10 years plus. That would be good because it creates an identity between player and club for many years. Even from a financial perspective, it's a great thing too because you don't have to keep going into the market to buy a new No.1 every few years.

Everyone hopes and wants Brad to continue to do well because he's a nice guy, he's a good guy, so professional, a great goalkeeper - he's got everything there.

He must be doing well to be keeping Shay Given out of the team. That says everything about his quality.

Respect to Brad for that. Shay is a great goalkeeper. For Brad to keep him out of the team? That shows the measure of the man!

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