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Stat Preview: Who Do You Think Should Start For Aston Villa vs Liverpool?

As Villa make the trip to Anfield, key points are up for grabs as both sides look to edge closer to the European places. Let’s see what the stats suggest ahead of kick-off on Saturday!

FBL-ENG-PR-ASTON VILLA-LIVERPOOL Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

Fresh from Champions League defeat, Liverpool are looking to put an end to their dismal run of form at Anfield as Aston Villa look to push on from a 3–1 victory over Fulham.

Liverpool’s run of six home defeats is the longest since Huddersfield’s seven back in 2019 and with the league champions about to hand over the title, Liverpool must now focus on securing a top four finish to prevent this season from being a complete disaster.

Aston Villa v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Aston Villa will be hoping to get close to a repeat of the reverse fixture, possibly the highlight of the Premier League season, however, Liverpool will be keen to right the wrongs of that eventful night at Villa Park. That being said, what can Aston Villa expect from Liverpool for Saturday’s fixture?

Let’s look at the stats

Liverpool are currently sat in seventh place in the Premier League, closer to the relegation zone than first place and only five points above Aston Villa. When considering that Villa survived on the last day and Liverpool had won the league seven games before the end of last season, the change in fortunes is quite remarkable.

The best starting point to see how a team is performing is through comparing their expected goals for and expected goals against.

As you can see from the table below, Liverpool have performed better than average in terms of both their expected goals and expected goals against. However, when you consider Liverpool are the current league champions, earning 99 points last season, they will be looking to compare themselves to the league’s best, not the league’s average.

When looking at their expected goals against, they are only slightly better than the league average and behind a number of different teams in the league. This will be a huge concern for Jurgen Klopp as he looks to defend his league title.

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When breaking down how Liverpool like to attack, it is clear that they like to get the ball forward as often as possible with a high number of crosses and long passes, shown by the graph below.

Liverpool have completed the most crosses in the league this season (461), with Trent Alexander-Arnold completing 139 of these (also a league high).

The graph also shows that Aston Villa have completed the second most crosses this season. Aston Villa have averaged 10.8 crosses per goal this season while Liverpool have averaged 9.6.

Liverpool have also completed the greatest number of long passes this season. However, while 14.4% of Liverpool’s passes are long passes, Villa have a long pass percentage of 16.9%. This shows that while Liverpool complete more passes than their opposition, Aston Villa are more likely to play it long when they do have the ball.

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The next graph worth considering is the number of touches each team has had and where on the pitch these touches have been.

As the graph shows, Liverpool play a very similar style to Manchester City whereby, they like to be in control of the game through having control of the ball.

Liverpool have had 23994 touches of the ball this season in comparison to Aston Villa’s 16168. This suggests that Liverpool will likely, and to no surprise, see the majority of possession of the ball during the game.

On the other hand, when looking at the number of these touches that come in the attacking penalty box, you can see that Aston Villa are very efficient in their possession of the ball and look to get it into dangerous areas as often as possible.

Liverpool have 4.2% of their touches in the attacking penalty area compared to Villa’s 5.1%. This suggests that while Aston Villa will likely look to allow Liverpool to have control of the ball, they will look to play a quick counter attack when they do have possession.

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The next graph to analyse when looking into Liverpool’s attack is their goals and expected goals. What this portrays is how clinical or wasteful a team are with the opportunities they are creating.

The reference line across the graph shows when a team is performing as expected. Teams above the line can be seen as the teams that have been clinical (better than expected) in attack whereas the teams below the line are seen as teams seen as wasteful (worse than expected).

It’s clear that Liverpool are some distance below the reference line showing that the Reds have been fairly wasteful with their opportunities this season. They have scored six goals less than what their shooting opportunities would expect from them.

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The final graph to consider looks at how Liverpool will look to get the ball back through interceptions and tackles.

Liverpool have made the lowest number of interceptions (252) this season and are only ahead of Arsenal when it comes to tackles (430).

Although this data initially suggests that Liverpool are struggling defensively and although this may be the case, it does not consider that Liverpool’s high amount of possession results in them not having many opportunities to tackle the opposition. Naturally, when a team has a high amount of possession, their opponent’s do not and therefore less chance to tackle and intercept is available.

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Possible line-up’s

With a big Champions League fixture with Real Madrid on Wednesday night, it is unclear whether Jurgen Klopp will play a full strength team for the match against Villa.

Liverpool will be without Divock Origi, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Caoimhin Kelleher through injury.

Sadio Mane will be hoping to start the game for the Reds as he has scored eight goals in seven appearances against the Villans.

As for Aston Villa, they will still be without captain Jack Grealish who is likely to remain out for a couple weeks.

Despite Wesley returning to training and getting some match-time for the under 23’s, Dean Smith is still waiting for Wesley to build his fitness before his return to the first team.

The biggest question for Aston Villa is whether or not super-sub, Trezeguet, should start ahead of Anwar El Ghazi on the wing.

Who do you think should start for the Villans? Fill in the form below and we will release a ‘Fans XI’ prior to kick off.