Thursday, April 9, 2020

Prediction: Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 17 Dec 2019

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Verdict: Aston Villa win to nil

Best Odds: 8/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

Handed what is a glorious chance to secure their spot in the semi-final of this year’s EFL Cup, Aston Villa will welcome a second-string Liverpool to Villa Park on Tuesday night.

Aston Villa

Starting with the hosts, while Aston Villa may have broken the bank and spent over £100million on new arrivals following their Premier League return over the summer, Dean Smith’s side find themselves in the midst of another rut. Hit with a 2-0 defeat away at fellow top-tier returners Sheffield United over the weekend, the former Brentford boss has seen his side lose their last three matches on the bounce and have failed to win any of their four appearances since opening December. With only their goal difference keeping them from slipping into the drop zone, fans around Villa Park will be most concerned by their side’s continued issues at the back. Shipping another pair of strikes on the road over the weekend, the Claret and Blues have now shipped over 1.5 strikes in six of their last seven matches across all competitions.

Team News

Although it might be a cup quarter-final on Tuesday night, Dean Smith is expected to make a number of changes in midweek.

Neil Taylor, Ezri Konsa and Henri Lansbury are expected to be given an opportunity, while Orjan Nyland could start in goal with Jed Steer sidelined through injury.

Tyrone Mings will not be risked after missing the weekend defeat with a hamstring injury, while Conor Hourihane is also likely to sit out again as he continues to nurse a knock.

Liverpool

As for the visitors, while Liverpool might hold an unbeaten run across all domestic competitions and holding a 10 point buffer at the top of the Premier League, it is no surprise that the Reds are expected to suffer their first defeat in midweek. With Head Coach Jurgen Klopp taking all of his first-team squad out to the Club World Cup in Qatar, Under-23s coach Neil Critchley will take charge at Villa Park of a team filled with debutants. With not a recognizable face in Tuesday’s matchday squad, the Reds’ youth outfit have also continued to show some worrying inconsistencies in their Premier League 2 League One campaign. Including being hit with a 4-0 hammering against Tottenham’s youth side earlier in the month, Critchley’s men have failed to win any of their last three domestic matchups and they have recorded just a single clean sheet since the 14th of April.

Team News

After being left out of Liverpool’s U23’s matchup over the weekend, it is expected that the attacking duo of both Harvey Elliot and Rhian Brewster will lead the line on Tuesday night.

Also featuring for Liverpool in this year’s EFL Cup, the likes of Ki-Jana Hoever, Caoimhin Kelleher, Pedro Chirivella, Herbie Kane and Sepp van den Berg should be selected in Critchley’s starting XI at Villa Park.

Key Factors to Consider

  • This is only the second EFL Cup meeting between Aston Villa and Liverpool, with the other coming in the 2002-03 quarter-final – the Reds earned a 4-3 victory on their way to winning the competition that season.
  • Liverpool have won on each of their past six visits to Aston Villa in all competitions, all coming in the Premier League between December 2011 and November this season.
  • Aston Villa are looking to reach the semi-finals of the EFL Cup for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign; the last Englishman to lead the Villans to the semi-final stage was John Gregory in the 1999-2000 season.
  • Liverpool have progressed from each of their past four EFL Cup quarter-finals (2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17) since losing 2-0 to Chelsea at this stage in 2007-08.
  • Aston Villa’s Henri Lansbury has more assists than any other player in this season’s EFL Cup (five), despite playing only two matches in the competition.

Conclusion

While Aston Villa might be continuing on what has been a worrying run of form in England’s top-flight, there is no doubt that Dean Smith’s men should see Tuesday night as a golden opportunity. Given that Liverpool’s entire first-team squad have made the trip out to Qatar for the Club World Cup, it is no surprise that the hosts are seen to be a landslide favorite. With Villa set to name a squad filled with experienced heads, it is hard to see the Reds’ youthful squad causing much of a dent in midweek.

Verdict: Aston Villa win to nil

Best Odds: 8/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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