LIVERPOOL VS. ASTON VILLA
| Saturday, December 11th |
Premier League | Anfield
3PM GMT/10AM EST
Villa’s leading scorers are Ollie Watkins and 20-year-old Cameron Archer (both on four goals in all competitions), while John McGinn and Danny Ings (on three goals each) will provide a known threat.
Steven Gerrard’s Villa are well-organized and, coming off of a longer rest than Liverpool, will look to prove themselves against a top side. The Reds can expect a well-drilled unit who will be resolute and well-prepared. They do give up chances, however, and Liverpool seem delighted to take chances this season.
Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey are out for Villa, but Danny Ings is back in training and others who took knocks recently are likely to be back for the weekend. Gerrard has spoken about having to manage Ings’s workload, so it’s unclear whether he’ll feature amidst this busy schedule.
While this game arrives absolutely drenched in narrative, Liverpool will hope to put it to bed early, and then Anfield can receive Gerrard with pomp.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keïta; Salah, Origi, Mané
Diogo Jota is on a cautionary training pause after “feeling something” versus Wolves (which is why he didn’t reprise his “why’s Jürgen Klopp starting him in a meaningless group match?” role midweek), but he’s not been ruled out against Villa (depending on whether he trains today).
Curtis Jones remains out with his weird eye injury from training, and both Harvey Elliot and Adrian remain out with injury. Roberto Firmino has returned to training, and Naby Keïta is back as well, having started on the bench at the San Siro. Quietly, Liverpool are returning to full strength.
Given Jota’s uncertain injury moment and Firmino’s recent return (and their importance over this month), we might see Divock Origi reprise his goal-scoring role as a means to manage fitness elsewhere — and given his all around form of late I don’t think anyone can complain if he does.
Liverpool took 18 points from a possible 18 in the Champions League group stage, and did so while resting most of the first team, which puts them in a good pace head of Villa’s visit. While December will feature some rotation, it’s possible that this match might be one of the more familiar line-ups for the month.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “I know [Gerrard] said ‘no sentiment’, he’s an experienced coach, but he has no idea how it will feel when he steps into the stadium/dugout. I had a similar thing first time I went back to Mainz.”
Steven Gerrard: “[Returning to Anfield] brings a smile to my face because I’ve got the opportunity to go there and compete against a good team, a good manager, with the opportunity to try and win the game. And that’s my only main focus.”
Referee: Stuart Attwell Assistants: Harry Lennard, Simon Long Fourth Official: Graham Scott VAR: Lee Mason Assistant VAR: Simon Beck
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.