Buoyed by the 2-0 triumph over relegation rivals Norwich City, Aston Villa will attempt to pile more misery on underperforming Liverpool and at the same time further improve their survival hopes. The Reds not only failed to beat Sunderland at home, but were also eliminated from the FA Cup in midweek, meaning they will be desperate to win at Villa Park.
Even though the heavy summer recruitment was enough to suggest otherwise, Aston Villa quickly find themselves involved in the relegation tussle, and the opening Premier League victory over AFC Bournemouth would prove to be their only league triumph in the first part of the season. Following some shocking results, nobody was surprised to see Tim Sherwood get the boot, while his replacement Remi Garde also needed quite a while to bring some much needed improvement to the side. Meanwhile, the Villans missed several good opportunities to boost their survival chances in matches against direct relegation rivals, before they finally embarked on a decent run of results that saw them record two wins and as many draws in last five league fixtures. But, while the victory over Norwich kept their chances of beating the drop alive, Aston Villa will have much bigger fish to fry when they host struggling Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, and this is a match where key attacker Jordan Ayew could prove to be sorely missed.
The Ghana star continues to miss out through suspension, while Jack Grealish is doubtful after picking up an ankle injury in training.
Meanwhile, Alan Hutton, Carlos Sanchez, Libor Kozak, Adama Traore and Jordan Amavi are all expected to miss the Liverpool clash.
Liverpool have experienced some testing times this season, but new manager Jurgen Klopp was quite unfortunate to have so many important players on the sidelines during the busiest period of the season. And while the Reds were far from impressive in the League Cup, they did well to reach the final, but the team paid the price for the lack of quality options as they were eliminated from the FA Cup by West Ham. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Premier League campaign has probably been the most disappointing aspect of the season, but while a top 4 finish is no longer a realistic possibility, the Reds still have time to kick-start their campaign and secure Europa League qualification. Given the circumstances, Klopp must have been delighted to welcome back the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Origi to the side, and with Jordan Henderson returning into action earlier, he finally has a sufficient number of quality footballers at his disposal. We believe that Philippe Coutinho’s goalscoring return will especially provide a boost to the entire side and the Aston Villa game will feel as a good opportunity to end a four-match winless run in all competitions.
Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi all returned into action, while James Milner, Jordan Henderson and few other regular starters will be recalled.
Martin Skrtel, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez and Jordan Rossiter are not yet ready to return, but the injury situation is clearly much better than just a week ago.
Key Factors to Consider
- Liverpool achieve better results with Coutinho in the side (W7 D6 L4 vs W2 D2 L4)
- The Reds won four of last five matches at Villa Park
- Both teams scored in six of last nine meetings
- Aston Villa boast a 0-5-8 record against top 11 sides this season
- The Villans failed to score in three of last four matches
Aston Villa have shown some improvement of late, but only when facing bottom table sides, and we feel that Liverpool will be yet another top team to take all three points from Villa Park. The return of Coutinho and Sturridge will provide a much needed boost and we are backing the Reds to come good this weekend.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 17/20
Bookmaker: William Hill