ASTON VILLA VS LIVERPOOL: PREVIEW
There’s no time to reflect on two dropped points for Liverpool as they travel to Villa Park tomorrow night to face Steven Gerrard’s side. The Reds have fallen three points behind the champions but can move level on points with victory over Villa. Here’s a preview of the game.
Jürgen Klopp struck a defiant tone in his press conference today as he previewed the game. The title race is not over yet and we’d all best remember that. There could yet be one more twist before the end of the season.
The manager has to rally his troops and get them ready for another intense ninety minutes. It will be match number 59 of this marathon season. There were a few signs against Spurs of the sheer number of minutes in these players’ legs.
They still gave it their best go and fought back to earn a point. Who knows how important that point could end up being? With the FA Cup final against Chelsea to follow on Saturday, Klopp could be forgiven for rotating his side for tomorrow’s fixture.
The manager made five changes at Newcastle last week and we could see a similar number of alterations for this clash. A win is imperative to keep pressure on Manchester City ahead of their trip to Molineux to take on Wolves on Wednesday.
Steven Gerrard will want his side to put up a fight as all eyes will be on how he sets up against his boyhood club. In the reverse fixture at Anfield, it was a very negative approach with the Villains quite happy to sit back in numbers and cede possession.
It almost worked but for a Mohamed Salah penalty midway through the second half. Gerrard’s charges have halted a run of four straight defeats by going unbeaten in their last three, including back to back wins against Norwich and Burnley.
They currently lie 11th on the table with 43 points. They are 9 points clear of the relegation zone and will be looking to seal a top half finish to end the season on a high ahead of a very important summer. They have nothing to lose tomorrow night and that mindset could see them cause the Reds a few problems.
No doubt roared on by a vociferous home crowd, they’ll look to throw a spanner in the Reds title challenge. Gerrard will put aside his allegiance to the Reds and set his team up to frustrate once more. There’s also the small matter of a reunion with old boys Danny Ings and Phillipé Coutinho.
Ings has been a regular pain in the neck whenever he’s come up against his former side and will once again be one to watch. Coutinho on the other hand, joined Villa in January on loan from Barcelona and hasn’t yet faced his former employers. His only outing against Liverpool came in that famous 4-0 comeback win over Barca.
He started well for Villa with a handful of goals and assists but is on a bit of a dry spell currently. He’s without a goal involvement in any of his last seven appearances for the club, with Buendia preferred at Burnley. No doubt he’ll want to end that barren run against Liverpool.
Klopp’s men won’t want to remember their last league trip to Villa Park as they got battered 7-2 in a quite astonishing game. The league trip to Villa Park before that saw a stunning last gasp comeback victory which fuelled the title charge of 2019/20.
The German has taken charge of eight fixtures against Aston Villa in all competitions, winning six and losing twice. The other defeat was the 5-0 hammering of the U23s in the League Cup when the first team was away on Club World Cup duty.
For Liverpool, the manager didn’t report any new injuries. Roberto Firmino is training with the team and is set to be involved. For Villa, Kortney Hause (abdomen) and Leon Bailey (ankle) are both out. Jacob Ramsey will miss out again with a groin problem but is expected to be back fit at the weekend.
The Colombian has been involved in 7 goals in his last 10 appearances for the club (4 goals, 3 assists). He is in inspired form and will once again be needed tomorrow night, whether that is from the start or off the bench (as we saw at Villarreal).
The 26 year old has once again hit double figures for goals in the Premier League. It is an impressive feat when you consider just how inconsistent Villa have been this season. The Englishman has scored in back to back games and ripped Liverpool’s high defensive line to shreds in that 7-2 defeat.
He was a strange choice as a substitute late on against Spurs but Naby has been in good form. He will likely get a start here and will be up against John McGinn. The Scotsman has won the most tackles for Villa this season and will definitely be up for the battle.
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