LIVERPOOL VS. ASTON VILLA
| Sunday, September 3rd |
Premier League | Anfield
2PM GMT/9AM EST
The Reds will be without their captain, since Virgil van Dijk had the unlucky distinction of people the player expelled last weekend against Newcastle United. Missing as well will be fellow centre-back Ibrahima Konaté, who missed last week through injury. That leaves Joël Matip and Joe Gomez as the two senior defenders available to Jürgen Klopp. So good to see they managed to go three whole games before the defensive problems began to kick in.
Ryan Gravenberch, though training with the team on Saturday, will not be ready to play on Sunday, so it will be another week before Liverpool fans get to see what all of the fuss was about.
Aston Villa have had to pack in two extra games against Europe Conference opponents this season. They kept three clean sheets in their five matches in all competitions, a feat Liverpool have yet to manage even once. However, all five games have been goal heavy, with one team scoring at least three goals in each.
Liverpool’s tendency to concede early goals, paired with their coalescing attack foreshadows an interesting clash on Saturday.
Not appearing, for better or worse, will be Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian is dealing with a thigh injury and will be unavailable for Unai Emery.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Robertson; Mac Allister, Endo, Szoboszlai; Salah, Núñez, Diaz
The aforementioned missing van Dijk and Konaté guarantee the defense. A shiny new midfield featuring standout performer Dominik Szoboszlai is likely. Diogo Jota could be given the start, but Darwin Núñez’s heroics against Newcastle have probably earned him a spot in the starting XI.
Thiago Alcantara is still out, but Curtis Jones might make the bench, having recovered from his ankle injury.
For Aston Villa, Emi Buendia , Tyrone Mings, Jacob Ramsey, and Coutinho are all out for this game. Meanwhile, first choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will be assessed for fitness, as will Alex Moreno.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “Burnley was good, to be honest, but Aston Villa is a machine – counter-attack, good organised, everyone committed 100 per cent, when they defend deep then they defend with their all and from there they go.”
Unai Emery: “We have to be very, very competitive. We have to face them trying to be close to them, individually, collectively and tactically. It’s going to be very difficult. It’s a very big challenge on Sunday because it’s not only about the result but about how we are, how we can face them.”
Referee: Simon Hooper. Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Simon Long. Fourth official: Tony Harrington. VAR: Darren England. Assistant VAR: Timothy Wood.
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