It was a slow, rickety start, but Aston Villa were eventually off and running with a lively 2-1 win over Leicester City last weekend. Emi Buendia’s header grazed the foot of Ezri Konsa to pull Villa back into the game and John McGinn assisted Konsa for his second goal, closing the door on the Foxes. While Leicester haven’t quite achieved the form they’ve been accustomed to over the past few years, this week’s opponent can’t be accused of the same.
Liverpool is, without question, exceptional. The last game they lost was November 7th at West Ham, and that is their only loss in the Premier League this season. They drew against Brighton the week prior, but that two week run was preceded by a 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United and proceeded by a 4-0 bashing of Arsenal. The Reds’ last league match was a 1-0 win at Wolves, with a 4-1 drubbing of Everton at Goodison Park just prior to that.
Players to keep an eye on include the always dangerous Mohamed Salah at forward/wing, Trent Alexander-Arnold and all three of his first names are at right-back, and Saido Mane at forward/wing.
The team sheet for Villa should be fairly similar to last week’s, with left-back being the biggest question mark going into Saturday.
Emi Martinez will once again man the net, with captain Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa at center-back and Matty Cash at right-back. At left-back, my knee-jerk thought is to go with Matt Targett. At the same time, and given the magnitude of the opponent, having Ashley Young and his maturity on the pitch would absolutely be of benefit as well. Continuity and leadership are good things, so Iet’s pencil in Young to start for a second match in a row.
In the midfield, expect to see the sublime run of form from Marvelous Nakamba to continue, with Douglas Luiz to his left and John McGinn to his right. Morgan Sanson should see some playing time from off the bench.
Further up the pitch, Ollie Watkins starts at striker alongside Emi Buendia and Jacob Ramsey, who will play out wide. Leon Bailey and Betrand Traore are unavailable due to injury.
Aston Villa are playing some of their best football in recent memory and hope is alive and well, but Liverpool are playing on a level that is at once beautiful and terrifying — like the glow of the asteroid you see in the movies right before all of humanity is obliterated. A bit dramatic, but the point is that Liverpool are preternaturally good at what they do.
PREDICTION: As much as I’d like to see Villa leave Anfield with at least a point, I’ll say it’s a 3-2 loss, with Villa making things interesting until the final whistle.