Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
Friday, January 8, 2021 – 7.45pm (GMT)
FA Cup Third Round
Referee: Craig Pawson
While not the most exciting of ties for the Reds with two meetings guaranteed in the Premier League season, it offers the opportunity to put a result, back in October, right.
Although, they could be set to face a young and inexperienced Villa side after their first-team were hit with a “significant” outbreak of COVID-19.
It would act as a reversal of the last time the two met in the cup, with a Reds outfit with the average age of 19.5 sent out back in December 2019 while the first team was in Qatar.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men may not be in tip-top form after a series of disappointing results, but another game, should it go ahead, presents another chance to strike back and this one is no different.
The Reds, of course, were humbly dispatched 7-2 earlier in the season by Dean Smith’s side in what was an abject performance of epic proportions.
Villa have proved to be a surprise packet this season to currently sit eighth in the Premier League table, but now there is a resemblance of retribution on the cards and a spot in the fourth round of the FA Cup for Liverpool.
While a rotated side is expected, starting the wheel of momentum and building confidence once more is of utmost priority and while it would add more games the schedule, a win here would be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Time to return the winner’s board, Liverpool.
In a rare occurrence this season, it could be a case of unenforced rotation for Klopp with the injury situation having eased somewhat.
The Reds will, of course, still be without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas, while the game will come too soon for Naby Keita and Joel Matip – who are making all the right steps.
The hope is that the latter will be back in contention for the visit of Man United on January 17, but for now Liverpool will push on with the personnel available to them.
And it is likely to be a case of wholesale changes despite the extended break which awaits following the full-time whistle at Villa Park.
A new back five could see Caoimhin Kelleher, Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips, Neco Williams and James Milner all start, while Thiago could get another valuable run out alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri among others.
For Villa, meanwhile, they were always set to be without striker Wesley and Trezeguet through injury while Smith had hinted at shuffling his pack.
But now, they will have to field a team made up of academy players if the game gets the green light as they have trained away from the first-team.
Last 5 Away to Aston Villa (All Competitions)
Lost 7-2 – October 2020 (Watkins x3, McGinn, Barkley, Grealish x2; Salah x2)
Lost 5-0 – December 2019 (Hourihane, Boyes OG, Kodjia x2, Wesley)
Won 2-1 – November 2019 (Trezeguet; Robertson, Mane)
Won 6-0 – February 2016 (Sturridge, Milner, Can, Origi, Clyne, Toure)
Won 2-0 – January 2015 (Borini, Lambert)
*To be played behind-closed-doors
Did You Know?
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Aston Villa – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp stressed the importance of the FA Cup despite Liverpool’s recent record in the competion:
“It’s important. It’s the FA Cup, we didn’t go far so far in that competition.
“I don’t think we were blessed with sensational draws so far – and now we go to Aston Villa, which is a tough one as well!
“But we always took it very seriously, and do this time as well, but we cannot forget the intensity of the period we are in and all these kinds of things.
“It’s important, like football games are important. We are professional football players, or coaches or manager, and the only thing you have to do, actually, is to win football games, and to try and make sure we really can do that.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Joanna Durkan will be at the helm of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, providing regular updates on all the action and keeping you entertained from 7pm.