With the 3-1 victory over Burnley, any realistic concerns of relegation washed away following goals from Danny Ings, Emi Buendia, and Ollie Watkins. Attention this week turns to a far stiffer opposition in Liverpool. The Reds will come in with plenty of motivation, currently trailing Manchester City by three points for the Premier League title. While they’ve been nearly ublemished throughout the course of the season, but did draw their most recent match against Tottenham Hotspur. Prior to that, they defeated Newcastle United at St. James’ Park 1-0 and Everton at home 2-0. Players to watch should be all of them — they’re all capable of going off, but Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Luis Diaz are ones to keep an eye on.
FLASHBACK: It was a day that will never be forgotten by any Aston Villa fan as Dean Smith’s Villans shocked the football world last season, beating defending champions Liverpool 7-2 at Villa Park.
For the Villa this week, there doesn’t seem to be too many changes on the table. The offensive production was light-years better than in the recent past, so one could presume the team is sticking with two strikers. Emi Martinez will once again grace goal, with Lucas Digne on his left, Matty Cash on his right, and Tyrone Mings partnering with Ezri Konsa at center-back. In the midfield, the slightly unconventional choice of Calum Chambers in the number six position worked out last week and there’s no reason to suspect he won’t reprise his role. Joining Chambers will almost certainly be Douglas Luiz and John McGinn. If we’re looking for anything a little different in the midfield, perhaps Carney Chukwuemeka slotting in could give John McGinn a bit of a rest? It’s unlikely given the magnitude of the opponent, but stranger things have happened. I’d hope and expect to see Marvelous Nakamba on the field before the final whistle as well.
Up front, Emi Buendia should play in the number 10 position, with a striking partnership of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings. Twitter is currently alight with news and rumors of Aston Villa signing Philippe Coutinho to a permanent deal, but Emi Buendia played far too well against Burnley not to start. You could play the pair in a 4-3-2-1 setup, but the diamond 4-4-2 has proven a better setup for Villa of late.
PREDICTION: If we’re being realistic, this is going to be a tough one no matter how well Aston Villa are playing. Liverpool are obnoxiously good and they have everything left to play for. On the flip side of that coin, Villa are no pushovers and the introduction of Buendia in the number 10 position was a revelation. It’s admittedly optimistic, but a 2-2 draw feels attainable.