Liverpool will be aiming to continue their winning start to the 2020/21 Premier League season when they take on Aston Villa on Sunday evening.
Reigning Premier League champions Liverpool will be in action this Sunday for the final time before the international break when they face off against Aston Villa in the final game of matchday four at the Villa Park.
Villa, having survived relegation by the slimmest of margins last season, have made a solid start to their Premier League campaign. Dean Smith’s side have picked up two wins in two, first defeating Sheffield United 1-0 before following it up with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Fulham last week.
In fact, in five matches in all competitions this term, the Villans have racked up four victories, losing one. Although, the defeat did come in their most recent fixture against Stoke City in the Carabao Cup.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have begun the defence of their Premier League crown in style, racking up impressive victories against Leeds United (4-3), Chelsea (2-0) and Arsenal (3-1). Although the Reds did lose their latest encounter – a penalty shootout defeat against the Gunners in the Carabao Cup – they will still be the favourites going into Sunday’s game.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Aston Villa almost pull off an upset win, only for two late goals from Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane to spoil the party and clinch a 2-1 win for Liverpool. And ahead of their latest meeting at Villa Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the two teams.
Team News & Tactics
The good news for Aston Villa is that captain and star man Jack Grealish is fit and available for selection, after having recovered from a knock. Kortney Hause is a doubt for the game, while Wesley, Tom Heaton, Orjan Nyland and Bjorn Engels are all ruled out with injuries.
There is no looking past Emiliano Martinez in goal, with the ex-Arsenal man making a brilliant impact since joining the club earlier this summer. He will be shielded by the centre-back duo of Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings.
New signing Matty Cash is the obvious pick at right-back, while Matt Targett should slot in on the left. The duo will have their task cut out against Liverpool’s wide forwards.
Douglas Luiz will hold the fort in the middle, with support coming from Conor Hourihane and John McGinn, who will have the license to push forward and join up in the attacking phases. New signing Ross Barkley, who has arrived on loan from Chelsea, could get some minutes from the bench.
Grealish is an undisputed starter on the left flank while Trezeguet will slot in on the right. The duo will look to make the most of the spaces left behind by Liverpool’s attack-minded full-backs. Spearheading the Aston Villa attack will be summer arrival, Ollie Watkins.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Watkins, Grealish
Liverpool have been hit with a new blow due to the coronavirus as Sadio Mane has tested positive and will miss out. He is the second Liverpool star to be self-isolating after marquee summer signing Thiago Alcantara. Captain Jordan Henderson is back in full training but is unlikely to be rushed back into action on Sunday.
Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kostas Tsimikas all remain unavailable due to injuries. There will be wholesale changes made to the side that started the cup tie in midweek, starting from goal where Alisson Becker is expected to replace Adrian.
The star full-back duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson ought to return after sitting out the cup tie and will act as key creative outlets going forward. They will flank the first-choice central defensive pairing of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk.
With Henderson likely to be eased back into the scheme of things, Klopp should revert to the three-man midfield unit of Fabinho, Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum that impressed in the league win against Arsenal last Monday.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino pick themselves in two of the three attacking slots. The third one could fall to summer signing Diogo Jota, although Takumi Minamino is also in with a shot, having impressed this season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Jota
1. Mohamed Salah to score anytime @ 1.57
1. Full-Time Result – Aston Villa or Draw @ 2.75
- Liverpool have earned five successive Premier League victories against Aston Villa, by an aggregate score of 15-3.
- Aston Villa’s only win in their past 19 top-flight home games in this fixture came in May 2011 (D5, L13). Liverpool have won on their subsequent six league visits.
- If they bag three points on Sunday, Liverpool could become the first team in top-flight history to win each of their opening four league matches in three consecutive seasons.
- Aston Villa are vying to win three consecutive matches in the Premier League for the first time since April 2010.
- Jurgen Klopp’s team has attempted 61 shots in their three league games this season – 17 more than any other side prior to the weekend’s fixtures.
Player to Watch
EVERY. SINGLE. ANGLE. ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 28, 2020
Liverpool’s problem coming into the new season had been the lack of a quality backup for their terrific trio. And they have gone about addressing the issue with the signing of Diogo Jota. Having arrived in a £45 million move from Wolves, the Portuguese international has shown glimpses of what he can do, having scored against Arsenal in the league game.
And Sunday could provide him with a huge opportunity to prove his worth and value to the side early in the season. With Mane ruled out, the 23-year-old is in line to make his first Premier League start for the Reds. And he will be gunning to mark it with a match-winning performance.
Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool
Both Aston Villa and Liverpool head into Sunday’s game on the back of cup defeats and will be keen on returning to winning ways. The Villans have been quite impressive this season and having run Liverpool close on two occasions last term, they will fancy another go at the Premier League champions.
The Reds, however, have looked much more like themselves, at least in the Premier League, after the opening day madness against Leeds United. And even though Villa will not make things easy, Jurgen Klopp & co. have plenty of quality to bag another victory on Sunday.