Friday, August 7, 2020

Prediction: Liverpool vs Aston Villa

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 4 Jul 2020

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Verdict: Home win by more than two goals

Best odds: 41/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Some of the thrill usually surrounding the Premier League seems to have gone out last week when Chelsea’s triumph over Manchester City made sure Liverpool were crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years, but in all fairness, that moment had been coming for months. On the other hand, the league is far from settled in other areas. While one group of teams fight over European places, others are desperately trying to avoid relegation. Aston Villa are in this second cluster, and they’ll try to do the best they can against the league winners when they visit Anfield on Sunday afternoon in the 33rd round of the 2019/20 season.

Liverpool

Winning the Premier League title, completing that quest which had been eluding them for so long, and after they had come very close several times only to be thwarted by margins extremely fine, certainly means a lot to every Liverpool supporter around the globe, and the pain of getting knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Atletico Madrid will have evaporated by now, especially as they won the elite competition the previous season. Their joy will have, however, been slightly blurred by what happened at the Etihad on Thursday.

Liverpool’s recent form has been patchier than ever this season. Since the return of English top-flight football from the Coronavirus break, they’ve drawn away to Everton in the Merseyside Derby 0-0, absolutely thrashed a good Crystal Palace side by 4-0, before playing a dreadful game away to Manchester City which they lost by the same result. Before that, they narrowly beat West Ham and Bournemouth at home, with a shocking defeat away to Watford, their first of the season in the league, squeezed in between.

The results in themselves won’t matter too much to Klopp and his team, but the oscillations in the performance levels will be a problem that needs sorting out, and the German will have given his players a flee in their ear in the Etihad away dressing room.

Team News

Klopp will have been thinking about his options in central defence since Thursday, and before as well. Joe Gomez started alongside Virgil van Dijk against City, but the youngster had a night to forget as his grappling with Raheem Sterling inside the box earned him a yellow card and the home side a penalty, and he was hooked at half-time. Dejan Lovren was left out of that game due to a minor knock, and with Joel Matip out for the rest of the season with a toe injury, it remains to be seen who gets the nod beside Van Dijk this time.

Winger Xherdan Shaqiri was missing from the squad for a while with a calf problem, but he is now back in training and in contention for this game.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa were the team that took Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup this season with a 5-0 win, but with Liverpool’s entire first-team squad away on Club World Cup duty at the time and their team made up completely of Academy players, Villa manager Dean Smith and his players will be aware that the prospect of this game could hardly be more different to that one than it is.

Villa are 18th at the moment, with 27 points to their name and in severe danger of relegation, as it stands. They do have a chance of avoiding it, but it means they have a lot of hard work to do ahead. Bournemouth in 19th have the same tally, Watford directly above have 28, and West Ham in 16th are on 30. Brighton and Hove Albion in 15th feel relatively safe, with 36 ahead of their clash with bottom-side Norwich City on Saturday.

Having gone to the long break with a game in hand, Aston Villa have played four since returning to action. They drew at home against Sheffield United, lost at home to Chelsea, drew away to Newcastle and lost at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Not exactly a great record to take to the home of the newly crowned champions. Before that, they were beaten by Southampton and Leicester City back in February and March, respectively.

Team News

Smith won’t be able to call upon defender Matt Target, who joins forward Wesley, goalkeeper Tom Heaton and defender Bjorn Engels on the sidelines through injury.

On the other hand, fullback Frederic Guilbert is back in full training having overcome a knee problem and could play for the first time after the season’s restart.

Conclusion

Some may feel that Liverpool’s recent inconsistencies and their half-hearted attitude at the Etihad may offer the visitors a ray of hope for this game, but Klopp will certainly have made sure that his players feel the need for redemption. They’re likely to grab control of the proceedings right from the start and put the visitors’ defence under siege throughout, which means Aston Villa are in for a hard afternoon at Anfield.

Verdict: Home win by more than two goals

Best odds: 41/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

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 four different football blogs.

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