Liverpool welcome struggling Aston Villa to Anfield on Sunday, as the Reds play their first home game as Premier League champions.
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5, 2020 – 4.30pm (BST)
Premier League (33)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Jurgen Klopp‘s side suffered a rare blip in an otherwise immaculate league campaign on Thursday, losing 4-0 away to Man City.
While it would be wrong to put the result solely down to a lack of focus after celebrating the title win, it clearly played a part in Liverpool’s slack showing.
Klopp was not a happy man after the final whistle and there is every chance that his team will be revved-up this weekend.
That could spell trouble for Villa, who may be heading to Anfield at a terrible time, when the best side in the country are wounded.
It has been a tough season back in the Premier League for Dean Smith’s men, who are still searching for their first win during the post-lockdown action.
They are strongly odds-on to return to the Championship with Norwich and Bournemouth, with positive results needed sooner rather than later.
Anything other than defeat for Villa will be seen as a bonus, but Liverpool will need to be much improved in order to guarantee all three points.
They were sloppy defensively and going forward against City – something that has rarely been the case since August – and it would be a surprise if the same happened this weekend.
A resounding win would be just what the doctor ordered, with that record points tally still the primary aim between now and the end of the season.
Klopp has no new injury problems ahead of the match, after his players came through the City game unscathed.
Joel Matip is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a foot problem, but he is the only guaranteed absentee.
It would be a surprise if Klopp went with an unchanged starting lineup, with this period in the season a good opportunity to rotate.
Joe Gomez had a poor night at City, as did Andy Robertson, but a lack of options in those areas means both should keep their place.
In midfield, Naby Keita stands a good chance of starting for the first time since a vibrant performance against Everton last month.
The Guinean could come in for Gini Wijnaldum, while James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones will also hope to feature prominently.
In attack, it may be that one of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino make way for Takumi Minamino or Divock Origi, although there is no great need to alter the front three.
Villa could field close to the same team that lost 1-0 at home to Wolves last weekend, but Matt Targett is missing.
Last 5 at Home to Aston Villa (All Competitions)
Won 3-2 – September 2015 (Sturridge x2, Milner; Gestede x2)
Lost 0-1 – September 2014 (Agbonlahor)
Drew 2-2 – January 2014 (Sturridge, Gerrard pen; Weimann, Benteke)
Lost 3-1 – December 2012 (Gerrard; Benteke x2, Weimann)
Drew 1-1 – April 2012 (Suarez; Herd)
Did You Know?
Liverpool’s league form at Anfield has been stunning in recent years, with the Reds not tasting defeat there since way back in April 2017.
One astonishing statistic sums up how imperious they have been on their own turf.
Everton have the second-longest unbeaten home run currently, going nine matches without being beaten at Goodison Park in the league.
Liverpool lead the way with a 56-match unbeaten streak, however, which is almost impossible to even fathom.
Here’s hoping that becomes 57 on Sunday.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Lost 4-0 vs. Man City
Won 4-0 vs. Crystal Palace
Drew 0-0 vs. Everton
Lost 3-2 vs. Atletico Madrid
Won 2-1 vs. Bournemouth
Aston Villa – Last five results (all competitions)
Lost 1-0 vs. Wolves
Drew 1-1 vs. Newcastle
Lost 2-1 vs. Chelsea
Drew 0-0 vs. Sheffield United
Lost 4-0 vs. Leicester
Speaking to the press on Friday, Klopp was wary of the threat Villa could pose, not least key man Jack Grealish:
“Villa changed formation a few times recently, last time a diamond with Jack Grealish in his best position.
“If Villa have possession they make the pitch big, play diagonals, use speed, they are good. But usually in games vs. the top six they don’t have 50 per cent, more like 35 per cent of the ball. for the majority of the time.
“Hopefully we have the ball and then we have to find solutions.”
TV & Live blog Info
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa is live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage getting underway at 4.15pm (BST), prior to a 4.30pm kickoff.
Chris Williams is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog, keeping you company from 3.45pm (BST).