Skrtel wary of Bent threat
Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is wary of the threat Aston Villa striker Darren Bent will pose on Sunday.
The England international has five goals for the season but has not found the net since November 5. However, he has a decent record against Liverpool with three goals in his last four matches and Skrtel has been on the receiving end of all of them.
"Darren Bent is a great player, an England international striker," said the centre-back. "We have to keep an eye on him all of the time and stop him from scoring against us."
Sunday's match will have special significance for winger Stewart Downing as for the first time he returns to the club he left in the summer to move to Anfield.
The England international was the match-winner the last time the two sides met on the final day of the season with his volley giving the midlanders three points at Villa Park.
Skrtel hopes the 27-year-old will be able to have a similar influence for the Reds this time around.
"It will be a special game for Stewart going back to his former club. He did very well at Villa and I'm sure he will get a good welcome," he added. "He scored against us in the final game of last season so it would be great if he could do that again for us this time."
Liverpool returned to winnings ways last weekend by beating QPR after seeing their 11-match unbeaten run come to an end at Fulham a few days earlier. They remain in the hunt for a top-four place and Skrtel believes the start of a compacted six weeks of action is the ideal time to begin picking up momentum again.
"We have a lot of games around Christmas which is a very important period for us," he told liverpoolfc.tv. "There are a lot of points to play for and we need to get as many wins as we can, starting with Villa.
"They are not an easy side to play against and you always get a difficult game. But we will be up for the fight and do everything we can to get the three points."