Aston Villa host Premier League title-chasers Liverpool at Villa Park on Tuesday evening (20:00 UK time).
Liverpool’s last Premier League outing resulted in a 1-1 draw against Tottenham at Anfield to stretch their unbeaten run to 16 matches (13 wins and three draws), leaving them at the time level atop the table with Manchester City on 83 points.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, ran out 3-1 winners at Turf Moor against Burnley, extending their undefeated streak to three games (two wins and one draw). With four matches remaining , Villa trail seventh-placed West Ham United by nine points for a spot in the Conference League qualifiers.
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A wake-up call
There’s such a thing as an embarrassment of riches. Jurgen Klopp is in a position where he can rotate his attack while not diminishing its quality. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and the currently injured Roberto Firmino are proven Premier League commodities. With the aforementioned Firmino sidelined, Klopp has rotated between Diogo Jota and winter signing Luis Diaz for that coveted third spot.
Heading into this latest round of fixtures only Salah (22), Son Heung-Min (20) and Cristaino Ronaldo (18) have been more prolific than Jota (15) in England’s top division. He’s also produced the goods in other competitions to bring his tally to 21 goals across 49 appearances, but ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham former Reds left-back Jose Enrique omitted Jota from his starting lineup, feeling the Portuguese forward has lost a step in recent weeks.
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“Why no Jota? Just because I’ve not seen him at the same level as he was before,” he told his followers on social media. “I believe he needs to wake up a bit on that, but definitely, we want to have him back before the end of the season, but this would be my best XI for Tottenham, let me know what you think, but with this I really think we can beat them.”
His omission from Klopp’s starting lineup earned a degree of sympathy from ex-Liverpool striker Peter Crouch who feels Jota has been usurped in the pecking order by Liverpool’s new boy. “I felt for Jota,” he told BT Sport. “I feel for Jota in general really. He has come in, done so amazingly well, scored 20 odd goals, and then someone like Luis Diaz comes in and steals his thunder a little bit.”
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Liverpool XI vs Aston Villa:
- Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Keita, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz (4-3-3).