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Villama Preview: Aston Villa v Liverpool

Fresh off the World Cup intermission, Unai Emery and Aston Villa welcome Liverpool to Villa Park. With World Cup winner Emi Martinez resting, can Villa keep the Reds at bay?

Following up a 2-1 victory over Brighton and shove Albion way back in November, Villa host Liverpool on Boxing Day in what’s sure to be an intriguing match. Given the gulf of time between matches, current form doesn’t necessarily reflect upon the last few matches, but it’s worth noting that Liverpool did slap around Southampton 3-1 back on November 12th at Anfield. Players to look out for include, but shouldn’t be limited to Mohamed Salah on the right wing, Darwin Nunez at forward, and right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. They currently sit 6th in the table to Villa’s 12th.

For Aston Villa this week, things should look similar to the last time out, with a 4-4-2 (or 4-2-2-2) look. Resting up after the World Cup, Emi Martinez will sit this one out. This frees up another opportunity for Robin Olson. Inauspicious in previous outings, Olson will have to play up to potential for Villa to win. To his left will be Lucas Digne while Matty Cash plays on the right. Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konza will partner at center-back. The holding midfielders in the layered 4-4-2 will be Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara, with John McGinn on their right and Emi Buendia on the left. Don’t count out Leander Dendoncker to sneak his way into a holding spot, but Luiz and Kamara are the safe assumptions. Moving further upfield to the striker partnership, we’ll find Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey in what one would hope is a reprise of their outing against Manchester United.

The atmosphere should be phenomenal at Villa Park on Boxing Day and, if Olson can hold his own, Villa have every reason to expect points. A win would be best, but I think a 1-1 draw is what’s to be expected.

Aston Villa Training Session And Press Conference
Can Unai Emery provide Villa fans with a late Christmas present, with a victory over Liverpool?
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images