Liverpool aren't in great shape at the moment. After drawing at home to Norwich City last weekend, Brendan Rodgers' side faced lowly League Two Carlisle United in a Capital One Cup game that should have been a procession no matter the side that was put out. A muted Anfield witnessed a strong Liverpool line-up struggle to create real chances of note for over two hours in a game that went to penalties. It was desperately poor stuff, which only served to heap even more pressure on the shoulders of the current manager.
Rumours have spread that Liverpool could be ending the Rodgers era, and the manager's words in the pre-match press conference lacked the bullishness as well as confidence of old. It appears that something is afoot. Still, Aston Villa will be Liverpool's opponents tomorrow as the business of playing games continues. Tim Sherwood's side is on an even worse run of form in the English Premier League than Liverpool, a fact that may offer crumbs of comfort for passionate Reds eager for victory tomorrow. Villa are without a win in five Premier League games, losing three of them. The home side are without a win in four so there will be an opportunity for one side to stop the rot on Saturday.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (3-4-1-2):
Can / Skrtel / Sakho
Clyne/ Lucas / Milner / Moreno
Sturridge / Ings
Aston Villa have caused Liverpool quite a few problems in the Rodgers era and unexpectedly triumphed in an FA Cup semi-final that was one to forget for Merseyside's finest. Christian Benteke, who enjoyed bullying Liverpool's defence in the past, will miss a reunion with his former club. Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan remain long-term absences, and it's unfortunate that Dejan Lovren will join them after picking up an ankle injury against Carlisle in midweek. Roberto Firmino won't miss as much time as Lovren but will also miss out with a back injury that may take a few weeks to heal. Kolo Touré is a doubt and will be needed for depth in central defence as Liverpool look set to continue with a back three. Joe Allen should continue his recovery from injury on the bench as Rodgers may look to shuffle his pack.
Tiago Ilori won't play against his parent club so will watch from the stands in cool gear. Aston Villa defeated local rivals Birmingham City during the week in a game that saw disorder around it with 28 arrests. Police strategy ensured that fans were kept apart before and after the game, but Tim Sherwood must have been happy with a win to help his side get back on track. Gabriel Agbonlahor suffered a calf injury at half time in that game so may not feature in tomorrow's match. Jones Okore and Gary Gardner are definitely out injured, but the lightning Adama Traore could make an appearance if he can prove his match fitness.
Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last four visits to Anfield and represent a significant step up from Carlisle. Tomorrow would be a fine opportunity for Liverpool to end Villa's undefeated run at Anfield, but Liverpool are a team playing without coherence, conviction, and confidence. Each game appears to be a tall task for a side lacking organisation in defence, stability in midfield, and creativity in attack.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM BST/10:00AM EST tomorrow, with coverage from LFCTV GO online for subscribers across the globe and NBC Sports Live Extra in the US. We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.