Liverpool vs Aston Villa: Premier League match preview
All the latest news and information as champions Liverpool look to bounce back from their 4-0 midweek defeat to Manchester City against a struggling Aston Villa side.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa: match preview
Liverpool achieved their main goal for the season with a record seven games to spare, but Jürgen Klopp’s team will be smarting from a comprehensive 4-0 defeat to Manchester City last Thursday. In his post-match interviews, the German insisted that his side had not lost any focus since they were confirmed as champions, but he will be looking for a reaction against Villa on Sunday (17:00 CEST).
Klopp also announced that he would continue to name his best XI for the remainder of the season and would not be “giving appearances or Premier League games away like sweets”. Despite winning just two of their last five league games, the Reds are still in with a chance of breaking the Premier League points record of 100, set by Manchester City two years ago. They have six games remaining and need 14 points to equal the record. As well as Aston Villa, they are still to play Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley and Newcastle United and would hope to pick up the maximum 12 points from those fixtures.
Aston Villa’s first season back in the Premier League has not gone according to plan, especially considering the club’s purported spend of over £140 million last summer. They are currently occupying the final relegation place but are only a point off 17th-placed Watford and three off West Ham United. They have taken two points from four games since the restart and face a daunting task as they travel to Anfield. The Champions have won every home league game this season and are unbeaten at home in the Premier League since April 2017.
Dean Smith will hope his side can take some confidence from the reverse fixture back in November, when Villa led for the majority of the match. They looked set to inflict Liverpool’s first defeat of the campaign before late goals for Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mané snatched the three points. Villa fielded a two-man strike partnership for their last game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but will likely revert to a 4-5-1 against Liverpool, with John McGinn set to return to the midfield.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa: injuries and suspensions
Klopp is expected to name a similar team to the one that lost against Manchester City midweek and has no new injury concerns. Dejan Lovren missed the City game after picking up a knock in training, but should be fit enough to return to the squad on Sunday. James Milner has also recovered from a hamstring injury sustained in the Merseyside derby two weeks ago.
However, Joel Matip will miss out due to a foot injury that he picked up in the same fixture. Xherdan Shaqiri has played just one minute in 2020 and is still sidelined with an ongoing calf injury.
Villa are less fortunate with injuries and will be without Matt Targett, Wesley and Tom Heaton for the trip to Anfield. Federid Guilbert and Danny Drinkwater are available for selection again, but will likely have to settle for a place on the bench. Henri Lansbury, the former Arsenal midfielder, will require a late fitness test.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Aston Villa: Nyland; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Taylor; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Davis, Grealish
Liverpool vs Aston Villa: what the managers said
Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool): "We didn't lose a lot of games in the last two years but we have lost some and they always feel like defeats do. We always used that for the next games. If you think what we didn't do well, we have to show a reaction."
Dean Smith (Aston Villa): "The mental strength and belief is there, I want them to show more personality on the ball.
"We have a chance, we made Liverpool work really hard [at Villa Park] and we were three minutes away from getting the victory ourselves."
Prediction: Liverpool will be desperate to makes amends for an uncharacteristically sloppy performance last time out and Villa may well take the brunt of those frustrations. Liverpool’s only home game since the restart was a comfortable 4-0 win over Crystal Palace and we may well see a similar scoreline against Villa. 3-0