Liverpool travel to Aston Villa this weekend looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have made an exceptional start to the campaign, winning nine of their opening 10 matches, and they will be keen to ensure the six-point gap between themselves and second-place Manchester City remains intact.
But, the Villans could prove a banana skin fixture for Klopp and Co if Dean Smith’s side put in a similar display to the one against Wolves in midweek, rather than their humbling against defending champions City last Saturday.
Read on for Aston Villa vs Liverpool preview, predictions, team news, TV info and more.
When is Aston Villa vs Liverpool and where can I watch live?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday, 2 November 2019
Kick-off: 3:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): N/A
Last five meetings: Aston Villa vs Liverpool
14 Feb 2016: Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool (Premier League)
26 Sep 2015: Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa (Premier League)
19 Apr 2015: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool (FA Cup)
17 Jan 2015: Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool (Premier League)
13 Sep 2014: Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
Aggregate Score: Aston Villa (LLWLW) 5-12 Liverpool (WWLWL)
Ones to watch
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
The 24-year-old Brummie has continued to grow and is now seriously giving Gareth Southgate something of a managerial headache with Euro 2020 on the horizon. The diehard Villa fan not only wears the captain’s armband on his sleeve but also his heart, proving an elegant yet tenacious midfielder – a rare combination in the modern game.
Such has been his form since guiding Villa to promotion that Pep Guardiola recently hailed him an “incredible” talent and, well, is there any greater endorsement in football than that of the Catalonian’s? He was disappointing as Villa fell to a 3-0 defeat last week but will be eager to bounce back at Anfield.
Key stat: Grealish has made more blocks (nine) than any midfielder in the Premier League this season.
The versatile Brazilian midfielder is arguably Liverpool’s most important player at the moment. Yes, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are the reliable sources of goals, while Virgil van Dijk and Alisson are the defensive catalysts, but Fabinho is the midfield fulcrum, the man pulling the strings in the centre of the park.
This season, he has accelerated his burgeoning reputation, proving nigh-on impossible to dribble past, while also having greater influence in controlling the game for Liverpool. If the Reds are to clinch three points against Villa’s very industrious midfield, then Klopp will need Fabinho on song.
Key stat: Fabinho has blocked more passes (10) than any Liverpool player in the Premier League this season.
Jota hasn’t featured since September and is nearing a return but this fixture will likely prove too soon for the Spaniard, while Keinan Davis has been ruled out with a thigh injury.
Grealish picked up a knock last week but Dean Smith has declared him fit for Saturday. Henri Lansbury is also being assessed ahead of this crunch clash.
Confirmed XI: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz; El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Wesley.
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Joel Matip remains out for Liverpool with a recurring knee issue, while Naby Keita is a major doubt for this fixture and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne continue to recover on the sidelines from their long-term injury complications.
Fabinho, who has been a mainstay in Liverpool’s midfield, drops to the bench with Klopp wary of his recent disciplinary record with him presently one yellow card away from receiving a suspension especially as the Reds face Manchester City in a week’s time.
“I don’t know yet [whether he will play]. I will have to see,” he told reporters in his pre-match press conference.
“I know he is [one booking away]. No challenges at all! It is not possible to play against Villa without tackles. We know it.
“We have to deal with this information, either him or me with the line-ups.”
Confirmed XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Liverpool are flying at the minute and have shown no discernible signs of slipping as of yet. Against Tottenham Hotspur, they were professional and patient, two key attributes of Premier League champions. If they bring that mentality to Villa Park then they should have no such issues brushing past the newly-promoted club and keeping the chasm between themselves and City to six points.
Scoreline prediction: Aston Villa 0-3 Liverpool