Liverpool host Aston Villa on Saturday in a game that marks Steven Gerrard’s return to Anfield. The Reds lie 2nd on the league table with 34 points, one behind leaders Manchester City, whilst Villa sit 10th on 19 points. We preview what is sure to be an emotional occasion.

Since taking over from Dean Smith over the November international break, Steven Gerrard has gone to work on imprinting his ideas on an underperforming Villa side. He’s led them to three wins in four matches, with their only defeat coming in a hard fought and a tad unlucky 2-1 loss to Manchester City.

The former Liverpool skipper has turned around the Villains fortunes and they will come to Anfield confident they can frustrate and look to nick something on the counter. A lot will be made about his return, but Stevie will only be focused on setting his side up to get something from the game.

Villa have scored 21 goals in the Premier League this season, the seventh best tally in the division, underlining the array of attacking weapons they possess. They ran City close a week ago, with their expected goals (xG) tally (0.84) not much off Pep’s side (1.04), suggesting a draw would have very much been a fair result.

There’s little getting away from the underlining story of this game however. Steven Gerrard is intrinsically linked to the fabric of Liverpool Football Club, having woven a good part of that fabric single handedly for much of his two decades spent at his boyhood club.

Ever since he stepped into the world of management with a stint at the club’s Academy, the Whiston native has seen his name tied to the ultimate job at the club once Jürgen Klopp calls time on his successful reign. Winning the Scottish league title in invincible fashion at Rangers only fuelled such talk the more.

Steven Gerrard at his Aston Villa unveiling

The move to Villa has widely been acclaimed as a stepping stone to the Liverpool job. It is a subject Gerrard has had to face in several press conferences, and it is a reality he yearns to earn, but one he can only achieve should he make a huge splash at Villa. We looked at why he made the right move in joining Villa here:

Having gotten the better of former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers last time out, Gerrard would love nothing more than to get one over the man he hopes to succeed. Jürgen Klopp for his part, will want his side to put aside any notion of emotion to focus on the task at hand.

Winning here, with Chelsea facing Leeds at the same time and City squaring off against Wolves beforehand, is necessary in this tight title race. Villa have given the Reds a tough time in recent times, with the 7-2 defeat in October last year still sticking in the craw.

Liverpool needed a stoppage time Alexander-Arnold winner to edge the last encounter between these two sides, with that victory crucial to the Reds clinching Champions League qualification. They are in red hot form at the minute, winning their last six matches in all competitions in a stunning response to their first defeat of the season.

They are fresh off the back of a comfortable away win over Serie A leaders AC Milan, with a largely second string side to become the first English side to win six out of six in the group stage of the continent’s premium competition. They remain the topscorers in the Premier League having netted 44 goals in just 15 games.

Klopp’s side are in really good nick at the minute, scoring at will and putting previous defensive mishaps behind them to keep 3 clean sheets in their last 4 league encounters. They have actually managed more clean sheets (9) than any other side even if their tally of 12 goals conceded is 3 more than rivals Chelsea and City.

This should be a good game at a vociferous Anfield as the home faithful welcome back their hero. Expect that fervour in the stands to be matched on the pitch, with this side being one of the very best in the world when they are in the mood. Gerrard will have a plan, but so will Jürgen in a tactical battle that will be well scrutinised.

It will be an interesting tactical battle between these two

Team News

For Liverpool, Harvey Elliot (ankle), Curtis Jones (eye) and Roberto Firmino (hamstring) remain out, whilst Diogo Jota is touch and go after missing training over the last week. Nat Phillips has also been ruled out till the new year with a fractured cheek bone. For Villa, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey are out with thigh injuries. Matt Targett and Liverpool old boy Danny Ings, are back in contention however.

Key Players

Mohamed Salah

He scored his 20th goal of the season in the win at the San Siro, in what was his 21st appearance. His tally of nine assists means he’s been directly involved in more than twice as many goals as any other Premier League player. Even when Wolves did a good job of keeping him quiet last weekend, he still popped up with the assist to win the game.

Diogo Jota

Jota was guilty of the miss of the season in that game against his former side when he inexplicably blasted straight at Coady with the goal gaping. He will want to put that miss behind him though, and having gotten a well earned breather in midweek, should be raring to add to his 8 league goals this term.

John McGinn

The 27 year old midfielder has been back to his best under the tutelage of arguably the best ever midfielder to grace the English game. The Scot has been key under Gerrard, with his late goal against Palace proving to be the winner. He also provided the assist for the winner against Leicester City last time out. His workrate and quality deliveries will be on show on Saturday.



  1. Would be an interesting battle with an electrifying atmosphere.
    Can’t wait to see what approach Klopp has towards this game, likewise Steven Gerrard.
    Liverpool for the win tho, club comes first!

    Liked by 1 person

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