Venue – Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Sunday, Oct0ber 4th @ 19:15
Current Odds – Aston Villa 9/1, Draw 9/2, Liverpool 3/10
Most Liverpool fans are in agreement about The Reds’ trip to Villa Park last season. That comeback win… that was when we really, really, really began to believe, wasn’t it? Two late goals for the come-from-behind victory really had the stamp of ‘champions’ about it. It turned out to be prophetic.
Aston Villa Form
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa have started the season very positively as they look to avoid another relegation battle this season. Villa won their opening four games of the campaign. Two of those were Premier League fixtures and they knocked Burton Albion and Bristol City out of the Carabao Cup as well.
On Thursday night, Villa’s Carabao Cup journey did come to an end, however. They lost 1-0 at home to Stoke City. Villa had reached the final of the same competition last season only to lose 2-1 to Manchester City at Wembley. Maybe their earlier EFL Cup exit will lead to a stronger showing in the league for Smith’s team.
Aston Villa are yet to concede a Premier League goal after beating Sheffield United 1-0 and winning 3-0 away to Fulham. In fact, they’ve only let in two goals in their five competitive fixtures so far.
Liverpool also went out of the EFL Cup during the week, losing on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Anfield.
The Reds have impressed so far in their bid to retain the Premier League title. Jürgen Klopp’s men have won their opening three games – 4-3 at home to Leeds, 2-0 at Chelsea and 3-1 against Arsenal at Anfield.
Liverpool join Leicester City and Everton as the only sides with a one-hundred per cent record at this early stage. However, if Aston Villa win on Sunday, they will also have won their opening three league games.
Aston Villa Team News
Tom Heaton, Björn Engels and Wesley are all out for Aston Villa while Kortney Hause will undergo a late fitness test to see if he is okay to face Liverpool.
Smith is likely to stick with the 4-3-3 shape that has served the hosts so well so far. Villa will certainly drop back to a 4-5-1 formation when out of possession but Trézéguet, Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins will look to cause The Reds problems going forward.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will be without Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcântara and Joël Matip.
Thiago and Matip are expected to return to action after the upcoming international break. Tsimikas and Oxlade-Chamberlain may both be out for a little bit longer.
Jordan Henderson is not fully fit yet but he could be back to play some part at Villa Park on Sunday evening.
Joe Gomez returned to action in the Carabao Cup so he should start alongside Virgil van Dijk in defence.
The midfield trio is likely to be Fabinho at the base with Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta ahead of him.
* Update – following the news of Sadio Mané’s COVID-19 diagnosis, I believe Diogo Jota will start in his place on the left of the front three.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3) – Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; Trézéguet, Watkins, Grealish
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Jota
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Anfield in July thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mané and Curtis Jones.
Last season’s clash at Villa Park saw Klopp’s side come from a goal down to win it late. Andy Robertson and Mané provided the goals for the great escape.
ASTON VILLA 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Sunday evening’s game is likely to be Liverpool’s toughest game of the season so far. Yes, they’ve played Arsenal and Chelsea already but both of those league victories were comfortable for The Reds. Dean Smith’s Villa team was a tough proposition last season and they’re a better unit now. I think Liverpool will do enough to take all three points, however.