Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Saturday, April 10th @ 15:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 11/20, Draw 16/5, Aston Villa 5/1
Liverpool are battling to keep their season alive these days. A slight upturn in form has seen hopes of a top-four finish rekindled at Anfield. On Tuesday night, The Reds’ Champions League dreams took a blow to the throat in Madrid, however. Now, Jürgen Klopp and his men must put that out of their minds until Saturday evening. The next five days are going to be so important in deciding whether any ‘success’ can come from Liverpool’s injury-ravaged 2020/21 campaign.
Liverpool have lost their last six league games at Anfield. It’s the first time such a poor run of home form has occurred in the club’s history. Things have looked better in recent weeks with three wins from four, all on the road. Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid may have knocked a lot of the wind out of Liverpool’s sails for now, though.
A top-four finish is within Liverpool’s reach as they currently just three shots behind West Ham in fourth. A win against this much-improved Villa side – as we know since they mauled us 7-2 in October – is needed to keep the pressure on for now.
Aston Villa Form
Aston Villa have won just once in their last five games and twice out of their last eight. They did beat basement boys Fulham 3-1 last time out thanks to late goals from Trézéguet (x2) and Ollie Watkins.
Dean Smith’s team has a decent away record this season, losing five of their 15 fixtures on the road.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi, and Caoimhin Kelleher.
Jürgen Klopp saw his inexperienced centre-back pairing get taken apart in Madrid on Tuesday. However, Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak must still be Klopp’s first-choice duo at the back. Hopefully, he doesn’t opt to move Fabinho back into defence in place of one of them.
I think with four days between the Villa game and the Real Madrid return leg, Klopp won’t opt to ‘rest’ anybody. I do feel that Sadio Mané’s starting place could be under threat, though. Mané has struggled to hit any kind of form in recent weeks so Klopp could try a front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Diogo Jota.
Aston Villa Team News
Aston Villa will still be missing striker Wesley while club captain Jack Grealish will face a late fitness test. It is generally felt, however, that this game may have come just too soon for Grealish.
Dean Smith has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation for most of this season and it has worked very well for Villa. I expect to see a similar shape from the visitors on Saturday.
Ollie Watkins should lead the line in attack and he will be confident of causing The Reds’ makeshift centre-back pairing plenty of problems. He did, after all, bang in a hat-trick against Liverpool’s first-choice pairing of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk in October.
With Grealish probably not available, John McGinn will continue in a more advanced midfield role with Bertrand Traoré and Trézéguet on the flanks.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Jota
Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1) – Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, Sanson; Traoré, McGinn, Trézéguet; Watkins
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Do we really have to talk about it? Yes, Aston Villa absolutely demolished Liverpool 7-2 when the sides last met back in early October. Amazingly, it was before any of Liverpool’s major injury blows so Jürgen Klopp had a full-strength starting eleven that day. Mohamed Salah netted our two goals that day. Villa’s scorers were Ollie Watkins (x3), John McGinn, Ross Barkley, and Jack Grealish (x2).
Liverpool did win 4-1 at Villa Park in the FA Cup in January but it was against Aston Villa’s youth players as a result of a COVID outbreak within the senior squad.
The last clash at Anfield was last season when Liverpool won 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mané and Curtis Jones.
LIVERPOOL 1 – 1 ASTON VILLA
Saturday won’t be easy. In fact, it will probably be one of our toughest remaining Premier League games of the season. Unfortunately, due to our form at Anfield and the setback we suffered in Madrid during the week, I can’t see Liverpool taking all three points against Aston Villa.