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Michael Taylor 21st Mar 2009 - 18:53

Torres can fuel Liverpool’s title ambitions

Whoever said the Premier League was boring? After Liverpool's unbelievable 4-1 win at Old Trafford last weekend it now seems Fernando Torres' return to fitness could turn the Premier League title race on it head.

Rafael Benitez's Reds go into Sunday's game with Aston Villa knowing a win would put them just one point behind the Red Devils and, on recent form, nobody would bet against Liverpool becoming league champions for the first time since 1990.

Who knows what the driving force behind Liverpool's dramatic rise from also-rans to contenders is but the big three, Benitez, Torres and Steven Gerrard have all been boosted by good personal news whether it be a new contract, a return to full health or criminal charges being dropped. It shows how beneficial a happy camp can be in football.

And while the Reds have been making their charge, Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa have been on a steady decline and it will now take a huge effort from them to even make the fourth Champions League qualification spot.

Although even a huge effort at Anfield seems likely to fall short against the rampant Reds making anything other than the 1/2 about a Liverpool win impossible to back on the match betting.

With Gerrard and Torres' reformed partnership not to mention the solid base Javier Mascherano, Dirk Kuyt and Xabi Alonso bring, Liverpool seem to have so many attacking outlets.

Even the once lambasted Fabio Aurelio is turning in a string of excellent performances that has brought a real goal scoring threat from set pieces and full back.

Much had been expected of the little Brazilian when Benitez brought him in from old club Valencia but until recently he had not impressed; and any free kick within shooting distance has now become a great opportunity when his supreme left boot is over the ball.

Aurelio is an intriguing 8/1 shot to score at anytime which looks great value given the way he left Edwin Van Der Sar stranded last week.

For Villa the threats have become less and less as the season has progressed. Gabby Agbonlahor was booed by the home fans in the 2-1 loss against Tottenham last week and it is hard to see where the England striker's next goal is going to come from.

In fact, the only Villa player that could be worth serious consideration in terms of scoring is former Liverpool target Gareth Barry, who has been played well all season and is also one of the most composed penalty takers in the Premier League.

Barry is a 6/1 chance to score anytime which looks all the more inviting if he goes all guns blazing to try and entice a summer swoop from the Reds.

It is worth noting that the Villans have been great travellers this season and Martin O'Neill is sure to inspire his ailing team in front of an optimistic Kop but it is unlikely to be enough to force any sort of result.

Jamie Carragher has become a rock in front of Pepe Reina and with Villa's miserable goals for record I fancy another home clean sheet for the Liverpool machine - it is 4/6 about Liverpool keeping a clean sheet.

The only question left is, how many will Aston Villa concede?

The Villans are solid at the back and Brad Friedel is having another stellar year but I fancy Liverpool will be able to breach the ranks at least once, so the 11/2 about a 1-0 home win could prove the best bet.

The only thing that matters for the red half of Merseyside is the result though as their Man Utd hunt looks set to gather real pace.

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