It’s victory or bust for Liverpool on Tuesday evening, as they head south for a must-win clash against Steven Gerrard and his Aston Villa side.
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
Premier League (36) | Villa Park
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 | 8pm
It means that Liverpool essentially have to win at Villa Park in their next outing to ensure that they remain in the Premier League title fight.
Here are 10 things to know ahead of another crucial game.
1. Villa struggling under Gerrard
Gerrard predictably enjoyed the ‘bounce’ that new managers often get at new clubs, but he has struggled in recent times.
While relegation has never felt on the cards, the Villains have been extremely hit-and-miss, losing six of their last 12 league outings to sit 11th in the table.
Next season will be a greater gauge of Gerrard’s ability, but the jury is still out among the Villa faithful.
2. Coutinho’s form dips
There are plenty of Liverpool and Villa crossovers at the moment, with Gerrard the standout one, and Phillipe Coutinho is another.
The Brazilian arrived at Villa Park in January, and much like his manager, he made a flying start, registering two goals and assists apiece in his first three appearances.
However, since then his influence has waned, with Gerrard not always starting him and no goal contributions coming his way since mid-March.
Perhaps there is a reason why Klopp wasn’t so disheartened to see him leave Liverpool in 2018 after all.
3. How could Villa line-up?
Exciting youngster Jacob Ramsey has been ruled out of Tuesday’s game, but are no new injury concerns for Gerrard.
The Liverpool legend could field the same starting lineup that won 3-1 at Burnley on Saturday, going with a 4-4-2 diamond formation at Turf Moor.
That would mean Calum Chambers anchoring the midfield in a No.6 role, even though he was known more as a defender at Arsenal.
Coutinho may start on the substitutes’ bench against his former club, but fellow ex-Liverpool man Danny Ings is expected to start.
Predicted Villa XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Chambers, McGinn, Luiz, Buendia; Ings, Watkins.
4. Who’s out for Liverpool?
Liverpool are in a similarly fortunate situation in the injury department, with Klopp having his entire squad to choose from.
Roberto Firmino is back in the fold after recovering from a foot problem and there are no fresh issues after the Spurs game.
Andy Robertson came off early in that match, but that looked more to do with fatigue than injury.
5. Predicted Reds XI
6. Klopp laughs off Pep remarks
Pep Guardiola has continued his obsession with Liverpool, but Klopp was typically brilliant in his response during his pre-Villa press conference:
“I live in Liverpool so a lot of people here want us to win the league, that’s true, but even here it’s probably only 50 percent – other people are involved in another fight.
“Look, as a manager, and I had this experience recently, after a game we are obviously, how can I say it, we are massively influenced by the game and the situation.
“So what I said [after the Spurs game], would I say it again? No. What I said after the game, they play like they play are still only fifth.
“It felt good in that moment, but wrong. It was just my feeling at that moment and I couldn’t respect Antonio more and how he organises his team, my god.”
He just always nails it, doesn’t he?
7. Liverpool’s record at Villa Park
While Liverpool have generally enjoyed plenty of success away to Villa in recent years, it hasn’t always gone their way.
Last season’s 7-2 mauling was a nadir in a horrible campaign overall, as Klopp’s men capitulated in freak circumstances.
A young Reds side were also dumped out of the League Cup in 2019/20, losing 5-0, due to the senior players’ involvement in the Club World Cup.
It has otherwise been happy times there for Liverpool, with Mane’s last-gasp winner sealing a legendary 2-1 victory in November 2019, and wins also secured in their four visits before that.
8. Did You Know?
Jota has struggled to make an impact in recent weeks, looking out of sorts barring one late assist against Man United.
In fact, the Portuguese now hasn’t scored in his last eight appearances, dating back to his equaliser away to City on April 10th.
So much of Jota’s game revolves around being a poacher who comes up with key goals, so when that isn’t happening, he isn’t offering a huge amount else.
As things stand, it is hard to see him getting into Klopp’s Champions League final starting lineup.
9. Moss takes charge
Jon Moss has been confirmed as the referee for Tuesday’s clash, while John Brooks is on VAR duty.
This will be the fourth Liverpool game that Moss has taken charge of this season, with the Reds faring well in those matches.
10. Follow our matchday live blog
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm (BST), with kickoff at 8pm.
If you are unable to watch proceedings, TIA’s matchday live blog will be in full swing as usual, with Dan Clubbe in the hot-seat from 7.15pm.
Come on you Reds!