Preview: Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

Preview: Liverpool vs. Aston Villa

Fresh from an empathic two-legged win over Hibernian to book their place in the Europa Conference League group stages, Aston Villa trek to Anfield to take on Liverpool in Sunday’s Premier League showdown.

While the Lions sealed an 8-0 aggregate success over their Scottish counterparts in midweek, Jurgen Klopp’s 10 men stunned the St James’ Park faithful last weekend, sinking Newcastle United 2-1.

As was the case last year, a first-half red card between Newcastle and Liverpool threatened to derail one side’s aspirations of victory at St James’ Park, as Virgil van Dijk cut a seething figure while trudging down the tunnel, having been penalised for a last-man foul on Alexander Isak.

Jurgen Klopp’s side – who were perhaps fortunate to still have 10 men on the pitch after Trent Alexander-Arnold – would seemingly succumb to a strike from former academy product Anthony Gordon, but just like in August 2022, the Merseyside powerhouses left it late to crush Eddie Howe’s dreams.

While Fabio Carvalho was the hero last season, super sub Darwin Nunez netted a brilliant brace off the bench to maintain Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the new term, as well as extending Klopp’s winning run over Howe to 11 games – an all-time Premier League record for a manager against a single opponent.

Sitting pretty in fourth place with seven points taken from the opening nine on offer this term, the Reds have now gone 14 games without defeat in the top flight since being subjected to a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City – winning nine and drawing five league contests since.

Furthermore, the hosts’ unbeaten Premier League streak at Anfield now stands at 13 matches since Leeds United stunned Merseyside in October, but with Liverpool having both scored and conceded in each of their last five games, Villa will no doubt be aiming to fight fire with fire.

Unlike Klopp’s crop, Aston Villa were unable to quell Newcastle at their St James’ Park headquarters in the first weekend of the season, but Unai Emery’s charges appear to have taken a few leaves out of the Magpies’ book following that 5-1 embarrassment.

Indeed, the Europa Conference League-bound Lions have strung together four successive wins with a staggering 15 goals since travelling home from Newcastle with their tails between their legs, and the Matty Cash show took centre stage at Turf Moor last weekend, as the right-back’s double and a Moussa Diaby effort saw Villa ease to a 3-1 over Burnley.

Either side of their emphatic success over Vincent Kompany’s men, the Lions made incredibly light work of their Europa Conference League qualifying playoff tie versus Hibs, completing the job on Thursday with a 3-0 second-leg win after putting five unanswered goals past the Scottish Premiership side at Easter Road.

Cash was on target again alongside Leon Bailey and Jhon Duran, and group-stage ties with AZ Alkmaar, Legia Warsaw and Zrinjski Mostar now await, but for the time being, Villa seek to reverse a slightly worrying trend that has seen the Lions fail to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven Premier League away matches.

However, the Lions did manage to extinguish Liverpool’s Champions League dreams with a 1-1 draw at Anfield last term, which snapped the Reds’ five-game winning run against their West Midlands counterparts since that unforgettable 7-2 mauling behind closed doors.

Liverpool Premier League form:

Aston Villa Premier League form:

Aston Villa form (all competitions):

We say: Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa
No matter how permeable Liverpool’s backline may appear to be, the new-look Reds remain a true force to be reckoned with at Anfield, and a reinvigorated Nunez is a dangerous weapon for Klopp to possess.

Emery was taught a footballing lesson at Anfield during his time in charge of Arsenal, but while travelling home with three points might be a step too far, the prolific Lions are more than capable of holding the Reds to a high-scoring stalemate.

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