Anfield will welcome back Gerrad Houllier where his current club Aston Villa will take on Liverpool in the English Premier League on Monday.
Houllier, in his six years in charge of Liverpool, led them to many trophies but the haul was topped by the treble of the Carling Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001. He will lead his current Aston Villa crop seated in the unfamiliar opposition bench against Liverpool, who are managed by Roy Hodgson - Houllier's good friend.
However, Villa have lost three successive games with the last one coming in the previous weekend against Birmingham during mid-week in the Carling Cup. Houllier faces a tough task against Liverpool, who have overcome their blip earlier in the season and have managed four successive home victories.
Houllier, who faced criticism by the end of his tenure in Liverpool, was confident that the fans would welcome him. He said, I know the fans will welcome me, I'm sure because we had a close relationship and we worked together because the fans are part of the team. I know they contributed to the success that we had. They will remember the success and the fans in Liverpool, when I went back for TV reasons, were always full of cheerful hospitality.
It is a club I liked even before going there so, having spent six years there, and being together with some people, obviously you can't forget the club. I might feel something special when I get on the pitch just before the game.
He added, Before that, I will do my job and be focused on the team.''
Liverpool come to the game after a 1-1 draw against Steaua Bucharest in mid-week, which gained them qualification into the knock-out rounds of the Europa league. However, manger Roy Hodgson will be without key senior players in Jamie Carragher, who dislocated his shoulder in the 2-1 loss against Spurs last week and captain Steven Gerrard, who pulled his hamstring in England duty a month back.
Liverpool haven't yet completed their revival and are inconsistent, especially in their travels. But it is a marked improvement from the clueless performances early in the season. Though they lost against Spurs last week to an injury-time goal, Liverpool performed admirably in the absence of skipper Steven Gerrard. Hodgson said as much.
I am hoping we will carry on where we have left off in the last couple of games, particularly against West Ham (a 3-0 home win) and Tottenham (a 2-1 away defeat). If we can play at that level for the rest of the season I have high hopes we will do well.''
Hodgson also spoke about the return of Houllier, who is an old friend of his.
I have known Gerard for many years, since I went to Switzerland in 1990. We have been friends for over 20 years, we've done a lot of work together in Europe for UEFA in the technical study groups and FIFA as well for that matter. I am delighted he is back in English football and I am certain he will get a very good reception when he comes back to Anfield because people appreciated the work he did for Liverpool. Like anyone in the Premier League, we all have difficult jobs on our hands and we know his team will be hard to beat, well organised and have some very good individual players. he said.
In 17 league matches, Aston Villa's only win against Liverpool was 3-1 at Anfield last season. However, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has lost both his league meetings with Villa while manager of Fulham last season.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos will take the place of injured center-back Jamie Carragher for Liverpool. Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Spearing are also sidelined with injury.
Villa's Ashley Young will sit out after accumulating five yellow cards this season, while Barry Banan is doubtful with a groin injury. Albrighton, Delph, Heskey, Petrov, Sidwell and Weimann are all sidelined and will continue their recoveries from respective injuries.
Liverpool have looked good at home ever since their win against Chelsea, and though they'll be without Gerrard or Carragher, they should see this one through. However, they have to be wary of Villa's counter-attacks and it looks likely to end 2-1 in favour of Liverpool.