Friday, May 24, 2024

Prediction: Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 2/3

Bookmaker: BetUS

In the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures on Monday evening, fourth-place Aston Villa will host third-place Liverpool at Villa Park on Monday evening.

Although Liverpool have already secured Champions League football for next season, this match marks Jurgen Klopp’s final away game. Meanwhile, Aston Villa have the opportunity to secure a spot at Europe’s top competition too, but in order to do it with a game to spare, they’ll need to beat the six-time European champions.

Aston Villa

Unai Emery’s track record of success in continental competitions didn’t lead to Aston Villa securing a spot in the Europa Conference League final this season. The Lions were defeated by Greek giants Olympiacos, who claimed a commanding 4-2 victory in the first leg held in the West Midlands.

The nightmare continued for Villa defenders in the second leg as Olympiacos striker Ayoub El Kaabi, with a second-leg brace, ensured his name would linger in Villa’s dreams a while longer. This result set up a showdown between Olympiacos and Fiorentina for European glory on May 29th.

In between their encounters with Olympiacos, Aston Villa suffered a rare defeat to a goal-shy Brighton and Hove Albion side in the Premier League, going down 1-0 in the midst of three consecutive defeats. Under Emery’s management, however, Villa have never lost four games in a row.

Villa missed out on the opportunity to secure fourth place without playing when Tottenham Hotspur defeated Championship-bound Burnley on Saturday. Nevertheless, with a four-point lead over Spurs who do have a game in hand, Emery’s men can clinch fourth place by securing a favorable result in Monday’s match. Even that game in hand for Spurs isn’t likely to do Villa any damage, given it’s victory-needing Manchester City who travel to North London.

Despite their historic 15-game winning streak at Villa Park, the hosts have seen their home form diminish, winning just three of their last eight Premier League matches in front of their own fans. However, Emery’s tenure has yet to witness consecutive league defeats in the 2023/24 season.

Team News

While first-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been cleared to face Olympiacos in midweek, the same cannot be said for Youri Tielemans (groin), Alex Moreno (unspecified), and Nicolo Zaniolo (unspecified), who will all undergo late fitness tests ahead of the Liverpool clash.

Winger Morgan Rogers may see his season come to an early end due to a hamstring injury sustained in the Brighton loss. Additionally, Emiliano Buendia (knee), Tyrone Mings (knee), Boubacar Kamara (knee), and Jacob Ramsey (ankle) are confirmed absentees.

Therefore, options for changes are largely limited to up-and-coming academy products, including 20-year-old midfielder Tim Ireogbunam, who has made one Premier League start this season. However, Clement Lenglet could offer a fresh defensive option.

Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his belief that his counterpart at Aston Villa should have been afforded more time to implement his strategies back in his days at Arsenal.

This sentiment comes in the wake of Liverpool’s dominant performance against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield last weekend, where they secured a comprehensive victory with goals from Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson, Harvey Elliott, and Cody Gakpo. Despite efforts from Richarlison and Son Heung-min to initiate a comeback for Spurs, Liverpool’s lead remained intact.

While Liverpool’s mathematical chances for top-flight glory remained after the win over Spurs, Manchester City’s resounding victory over Fulham has narrowed the race to a two-team contest between the reigning champions and Arsenal, ending the Premier League dream for Liverpool once more.

Although Klopp’s side may lament the demise of their title aspirations in his final season, they aim to extend their impressive unbeaten streak in May as Klopp prepares for his last away game in charge. Liverpool have remained undefeated in 18 May Premier League games since suffering a defeat against Chelsea in 2018.

While Aston Villa may seek to replicate their remarkable 7-2 victory over Liverpool from October 2020, recent history does not favor them, as they have lost six and drawn one of their last seven encounters against the Reds. Liverpool emerged as convincing 3-0 victors in their previous meeting at Anfield in September, and they boast 16 Premier League away wins against Villa, the most against any opponent.

Team News

Diogo Jota (hip), Ben Doak (knee), Bobby Clark (unspecified), Thiago Alcantara (muscle), and Joel Matip (knee) remain sidelined for Liverpool.

There were concerns among Liverpool fans when Robertson was not seen in the latest training pictures, but he was spotted at the AXA facility on Friday and is expected to be available for selection. However, Kostas Tsimikas and Joe Gomez are on standby if needed.

Jurgen Klopp has expressed regret over not playing Harvey Elliott enough this season, so the English midfielder can be expected to feature prominently. Cody Gakpo is likely to be selected over Darwin Nunez upfront, with Klopp stating that there is “no speculation” surrounding the Uruguayan striker after he deleted several Liverpool-related posts from his Instagram account.

Conclusion

Early goals are a regular feature of games between these two teams, and though either side could be the one to score one, Liverpool are likely to prolong Villa’s wait for the confirmation of their involvement in next season’s Champions League.

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 2/3

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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