Liverpool vs Aston Villa – Match Preview
Despite both sides nursing injuries to several first team players, there remains a cautious optimism as Liverpool and Aston Villa look forward toward new beginnings.
There is no doubt that the Liverpool will still be riding the high of their remarkable comeback at St James Park, with goalkeeper Alisson describing the victory as “one of a kind”.
Despite falling to ten men for the second consecutive game, Jurgen Klopp’s men found a way to overcome the odds against an energetic Newcastle side, with the help of a brace from substitute Darwin Nunez.
The Reds will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season, but will have to do so without the suspended Virgil van Dijk and the injured Ibrahima Konate.
They will however, be buoyed by the stellar performance of Joe Gomez, who won five out of his six duels and maintained a 90% passing accuracy.
The Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment has yielded mixed results so far this season, as the England international not only looks uncomfortable playing as a narrow fullback, but also receiving the ball on the half turn when in midfield.
This of course is an issue that can be rectified when Liverpool’s fresh-faced midfield has stabilised but it is also something that Unai Emery’s Villans may look to exploit at Anfield.
Following an uncertain transfer window before their season opener, Liverpool fans will be reassured after the signing of Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch for an estimated fee of £34 million. Being Liverpool’s fourth signing of the window, the Dutchman will look to provide some much needed versatility in the middle of the park and hopefully emulate compatriot Gini Wijnaldum.
Predicted line-up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Robertson; Endo, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai; Diaz, Gakpo, Salah.
Since their miserable opening day defeat to Newcastle, Aston Villa have responded in all the right ways; thrashing Everton, outclassing Burnley and resigning Hibernian to a heavy defeat over two legs.
Their recent victory has meant that the Villans have qualified for a European competition for the first time in 13 years.
Additionally, the 5-0 victory against Hibs in the first leg meant that Emery was able to rest key players in the second leg at Villa Park, though his introduction of Matty Cash and John McGinn highlighted his intent in the competition.
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and left back Alex Moreno are currently being assessed for Sunday’s game, while Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Buendia have sustained long-term injuries.
Jacob Ramsey, who scored in this fixture last season, also looks set to miss out and former Red Philippe Coutinho is on the verge of completing his move to Qatari side Al Duhail.
Villa’s explosive start to the season can be accredited to the likes of club captain John McGinn, Matty Cash and star signing Moussa Diaby.
Diaby has already registered two goals and one assist in three league matches and has proven to be a constant threat on the right wing. With devastating pace and precise ball control, he will look to exploit a Liverpool high line that is missing van Dijk and Konate.
Another goal threat is of course Matty Cash, who seems to be relishing a more advanced role on the right hand side, rewarding his manager’s tactical switch with three goals in his last two games.
The high pressing and relentless stamina of John McGinn cannot be ignored, with his role as an engine being pivotal towards Aston Villa’s remarkable turnaround under Unai Emery.
Predicted Line-up: Olsen; Konsa, Carlos, Torres; Cash, McGinn, Douglas Luis, Digne; Diaby, Watkins, Bailey.
A game that will outline the season objectives for both sides?
A win for Liverpool could quite possibly ignite a title charge that was rendered almost impossible, following the departures of former captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
A win or even a draw for Emery’s side will instil them with hope that they can go pound for pound with some of the league’s best sides, potentially charging for a European spot through league standings, as well as the Conference League.
With both sides possessing a justifiable sense of optimism, this end to end clash will be a mouth-watering watch for the neutral and could potentially topple Arsenal vs Man Utd as game of the weekend.
Where to watch: Unavailable in the UK.
Score prediction: Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa.