Liverpool v Aston Villa – Preview
Liverpool v Aston Villa – Preview
The Football Faithful
Champions Liverpool host Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, the Reds out for revenge following their 7-2 defeat at the hands of Villa in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Here’s all you need to know about that intriguing clash at Anfield:
Following a dreadful run of form at the start of 2021, Jurgen Klopp’s men had somewhat put that behind them with three straight victories in all competitions, including a 3-0 hammering of Arsenal at the weekend.
They were however brought crashing back down to earth with a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday night, the Champions League quarter-final, first-leg tie seeing the Premier League side’s defensive weaknesses once again laid bare, with right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, in particular, coming under fire for his part in Madrid’s second goal.
All is not lost for Liverpool, however, with a vital away goal from the ever-reliable Mo Salah sparking hope of a comeback in the second-leg at Anfield next week, as they bid to reach the semi-final stages of the competition for the third time in four seasons.
As for their top-four hopes, Chelsea’s shock 5-2 defeat at the hands of struggling West Brom has renewed hope of the champions clinching that highly competitive fourth spot, the gap between themselves and West Ham United in fourth now just three points.
Klopp’s side will now be looking to secure a first home league win since their 2-1 victory over Tottenham back on 16 December, as well as banishing some demons from their last Premier League meeting with Villa.
Aston Villa: LDDLW
After having narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of last season, Dean Smith’s side have been a much-improved outfit this term, as they remain with an outside chance of securing European football come the end of the current campaign.
The Villans are currently in ninth and eight points behind West Ham in fourth, yet do still have a game in hand on all the sides above them, bar Everton.
Their most recent league encounter saw them come from behind to dispatch a spirited Fulham side at Villa Park, the hosts netting three times late on after Aleksandar Mitrovic had given Scott Parker’s side the lead, courtesy of a rare Tyrone Mings error.
That victory was Villa‘s first in five league games, with their form having taken a noticeable dip following the absence of captain and star man, Jack Grealish, the England international having been sidelined with a shin problem since the goalless draw with Brighton back in mid-February.
The 25-year-old looked set for a return to action against the Cottagers, yet suffered a setback in training prior to the match, with his involvement in the game at Anfield still in doubt at present.
Smith’s men will be hoping to have their talisman back fit and available come Saturday, as they look for a repeat performance to their breathtaking 7-2 win when the two sides last met in the league, a game that saw Ollie Watkins net a hat-trick.
FA Cup, Aston Villa 1-4 Liverpool, 8 January 2021
That thumping Villa victory is not the two side’s most recent meeting, however, with the pair having met in the FA Cup third-round back in January, albeit in somewhat bizarre circumstances.
Due to a Covid outbreak at the club, the hosts were forced to field an Under-23 side for the clash, with the average age of the starting XI just 18 years and 294 days, while the visitors fielded a strong side that included the likes of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
That gulf in quality and experience looked set to produce a one-sided affair, particularly after the Reds took the lead inside four minutes, yet the home side put up a valiant fightback, former Barcelona man Louie Barry firing home on the stroke of half-time to draw the two sides level.
Unfortunately for Barry and co, Klopp’s men were simply too strong in the second-half, with three goals in the space of five minutes from Gini Wijnaldum, Salah and Mane ending their brave resistance.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Thiago; Jota, Mane, Salah.
Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn, Sanson; Trezeguet, Traore, Watkins.
Who is the referee?
What channel is it on?
UK and Irish readers can watch the match on Sky Sports Premier League.
What time is kick off?
Saturday 10 April, 15:00 BST
Liverpool – 11/20
Aston Villa – 5/1
Draw – 16/5
See also – Champions League Team of the Week