Familiar faces are set to meet at Anfield as Liverpool and Aston Villa lock horns in Saturday’s Premier League match-up.
Despite falling behind early, the Reds picked themselves up to beat AC Milan 2-1 at San Siro in midweek, becoming the first English side to have completed the Champions League group stage campaign with a 100% record in the process.
On top of that, Liverpool squeezed to a late 1-0 win at Wolverhampton last time out to maintain a one-point deficit on Premier League pacesetters Manchester City.
Now riding on a four-match winning streak in domestic affairs, the Merseysiders could register five top-flight triumphs on the trot for the first time this season.
In a bizarre twist of fate, a man who brought the Anfield crowd so much joy throughout the years could throw a spanner in the works to Liverpool’s top-place pursuit.
Since replacing Dean Smith at the helm in mid-November, Steven Gerrard has guided Aston Villa to three victories in four Premier League matches, barring a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City.
The former Reds icon eked out a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace in his first top-flight travel and could become the first Villa boss since John Gregory in 1998 to win his first two Premier League away games.
With Villa’s mini-revival under Gerrard helping the Lions whittle down the gap on fourth-placed West Ham to eight points, this encounter could be a defining moment for the club’s top-four ambitions.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
Liverpool may have defeated Aston Villa 2-1 in this exact fixture in April, but that narrow triumph has hardly washed out the memory of a 7-2 thrashing at Villa Park in October 2020.
Yet, the recent H2H record in the Premier League speaks volumes, with the Reds racking up six victories across their last seven top-flight meetings with Villa.
Furthermore, the Merseyside giants have turned a four-game winless league streak at Anfield against the Lions (D2, L2) into a three-match winning run, netting an average of 2.33 goals per game in that sequence.
Liverpool Team News
Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones are long-term absentees at Liverpool, while Roberto Firmino seems likely to remain on the sidelines for at least another week despite returning to training recently.
Other than those three, Jurgen Klopp will have the remainder of his star-studded roster fit and firing for Gerrard’s return to base.
Mohamed Salah, who set up Divock Origi on a silver platter at Molineux, should spearhead the attack alongside his partner in crime Sadio Mane.
The Egyptian dynamo has already notched up 13 goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season, as he heads into this round as the only player in England’s top-flight to have smashed a 10-goal barrier so far.
Aston Villa Team News
Gerrard may have a sizeable headache piecing together his attacking line-up.
Marquee summer signings Danny Ings and Leon Bailey are unavailable to injuries, with the former being directly involved in 24% of Aston Villa’s Premier League goals this season.
In addition to those two, another key attacking component is set to miss out on the Lions’ visit to Anfield as Bertrand Traore has yet to overcome a thigh injury.
So Gerrard will likely turn to Ollie Watkins to shoulder the scoring burden.
The 25-year-old striker bagged a hat-trick in Villa’s abovementioned 7-2 thumping of Liverpool in the first half of last season before firing in a consolation goal at Anfield in April.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa Predicted Line-ups
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara; Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Ashley Young; John McGinn, Marvelous Nakamba, Douglas Luiz; Jacob Ramsey, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendia.