Kyrgiakos ready to erase Euro pain
Liverpool's new signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos plans to use his shock move to Anfield to erase five years of pain. The Greece defender was missing with a knee injury when his country produced one of the biggest shocks in international football history by winning UEFA Euro 2004. It still hurts Kyrgiakos that he missed the championships, but the former Rangers centre-back hopes that he will more than make up for that disappointment by helping Liverpool win the title for the first time since 1990.
"It's something I would like very much," said Kyrgiakos, who could make his debut in Monday's match against Aston Villa at Anfield. Kyrgiakos's arrival from AEK Athens for £2m (€2.3m) has helped ease a defensive crisis at Anfield, yet the 30-year-old was unaware of Liverpool's interest until last weekend.
"When you are about to join a club like Liverpool, you don't need any convincing at all," Kyrgiakos said. Denmark's Daniel Agger (back) will definitely miss Monday's home game, while Martin Skrtel (jaw) is a major doubt.
"Sotirios is the kind of player we needed and he gives us something different," Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said. Liverpool defeated Villa 5-0 in the corresponding fixture last season, Steven Gerrard completing a hat-trick from the penalty spot moments after the Birmingham-based club's goalkeeper Brad Friedel had been sent off.
Benitez wants to continue the momentum from his team's impressive 4-0 victory over Stoke City in midweek and is demanding another high-tempo performance. Villa have made a poor start to the campaign, last Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic followed by a 1-0 defeat to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday. Yet manager Martin O'Neill is remaining calm and insists his side can set the tone for the rest of the season with a positive result at Anfield.
"Last season we beat Manchester City at home, we then went to Stoke and got beaten by a very late goal and that was dispiriting to lose it," O'Neill said. "Then we fought back against Liverpool and drew at home with them. We're capable of getting over it."
O'Neill confessed that he felt let down on the opening day of the season. "It just wasn't good enough," he said.
Villa defender Curtis Davies is doubtful after a recurrence of his shoulder problem. Davies suffered the setback during the latter stages of the match away to Rapid Vienna and his replacement, rookie Shane Lowry, is amongst the candidates to replace him, although Habib Beye could switch from right-back.
O'Neill will also be hoping striker John Carew is fit to make his first appearance of the season; the Norwegian missed the Wigan match with a foot injury and then pulled out of the Vienna tie with a virus.