Liverpool vs Aston Villa: A Premier League Showdown
The Context: A Battle Between Two Historic Clubs
Writing a match day preview the day before the summer transfer window shuts is a tad tricky. However, I assume that any business undertaken will be too late to see them participating on Sunday afternoon. The cut-off point for this weekend’s match registration is Friday at noon. Therefore, writing this the afternoon prior should mean that the squads that are currently in place will likely now remain. This game represents a contest between two of England’s biggest historical clubs, who are both enjoying solid starts to their respective campaigns. Liverpool currently sits in 4th place in the top division, with seven points taken from their opening three games.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 30, 2023
Good wins against Newcastle and Bournemouth were preceded by a valuable point at Stamford Bridge, which also sees two very difficult away fixtures successfully navigated. Unai Emery brings his Villains to Anfield after comprehensive wins over Everton and Burnley were preceded by a 5-1 thumping away to Newcastle. The 1981/82 European Cup winners currently sit 7th in the Premier League, with six points taken from their three games played. In addition to their respectable league start, Villa recorded a 0-5 victory in their first-leg tie against Hibernian (play-off) as they look to secure their participation in this year’s Europa Conference League. They are due to play the second leg of that tie on the evening this is being written, which is Thursday, 31st August. Due to the aggregate score being so heavily weighted in the home team’s favor, it should see substantial rotation from their Spanish manager.
Aston Villa’s Squad Status
The Aston Villa Availability
On the visitor’s injury front, Emiliano Buendia, Tyrone Mings, Jacob Ramsey, Leander Dendoncker, Philippe Coutinho, Alex Moreno, and Timothy Iroegbunam are all sidelined for this weekend’s trip to Merseyside. After a comfortable 1-3 away victory over Burnley last weekend, I imagine their 51-year-old former Arsenal manager will look to roll out an almost identical team in their fourth league outing. The likes of Leon Bailey, Nicolò Zaniolo, and Youri Tielemans will be hoping to make an impression in the second leg against Hibernian to push their individual cases for a weekend start.
Liverpool’s Squad Status
The Liverpool Availability
Liverpool comes into this game after another frenzied week of speculation surrounding potential transfers. Ryan Gravenberch seems to be the man most talked about, which will see him (and any other new arrivals) ineligible until after the international break. If the Reds were to secure another home win, it would see 10 points taken from their first four games. This kind of start would be a brilliant initial tally, especially with the settling of the new squad members ongoing. The match day squad for the weekend will be without the suspended Virgil van Dijk, whereas Nat Phillips is set to confirm his season-long loan to Celtic. There is still little word as to whether Ibrahima Konaté will be fit to start. Therefore, the below caption is a fair representation of what the starting eleven will be. Thiago Alcântara should be back to take a place on the bench, as well as the returning Curtis Jones. I suspect Darwin must start this game, with Cody Gakpo dropping to the bench.
The Game Plan
How Will This Contest Play Out
Systems and patterns of play will determine the game’s result. With no Virgil available, the hybrid formation should be put on the sidelines, alongside our defensive leader and captain. Liverpool has the firepower and the personnel to win this game, though Unai Emery will most definitely have a solid plan to stop our best assets from overwhelming his side. The opening day thrashing (5-1 against the Geordies) was an irregular moment for Villa, who should come into this matchup with a solid and disciplined manner to their play. Ollie Watkins will represent the biggest visiting threat, especially given that Jürgen Klopp could be starting both his backup central defenders. For the home team, it is about staying vigilant in their off-ball efforts and allowing the wealth of attacking talent to win the game. I expect big moments from Darwin & Dominik, with this explosive pair only just getting to know each other’s games.
Player to Watch – Darwin Núñez
Liverpool 3 – 1 Aston Villa