The Premier League run in continues on Tuesday evening when we have another chapter of the title race being written when Aston Villa play host to top chasing Liverpool in a match the Reds know they simply have to win.
Slipping up against Spurs at the weekend means Liverpool are playing catch up in the title race. Successive wins have got Villa beyond the 43 point mark so their eyes could already be turning towards the proverbial beach.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels with the build-up to it beginning at 7.30pm and the match kicking off at 8pm.
I think most Aston Villa fans will now be content with the season they have had. They have struggled for consistency but when you consider they had to change their manager midway through the campaign I guess that is understandable. Under Steven Gerrard they have had some good times and then one indifferent spell, a spell that had one or two looking over their shoulders for a short while. They have won their last two though so anyone who were starting to worry now need not bother.
I guess if you were being harsh on Villa, you could argue that a run of four defeats and a draw in five was only ended with wins over Norwich City and Burnley, two of the poorer sides in the competition. This is a chance for them to answer those critics but that isn’t going to be easy. The good thing for Villa in those victories is that they were emphatic in their nature which they needed to be. They are going to be tested defensively here but if they can stand up to that scrutiny they have the players to cause an impression at the other end of the pitch.
I would imagine this would have been a match which Jurgen Klopp might have circled as one that he could perhaps use one or two of his squad members during the course of the 90 minutes, however those plans went out of the window when Liverpool were held by Tottenham at the weekend to allow Manchester City to open up a three point gap in the title race. The German will be well aware that if his side are to regain the Premier League crown they can’t afford another slip up in their final three matches.
That might mean that despite having the FA Cup final on Saturday afternoon, Liverpool go in here with a stronger starting XI than they might have been planning, which can signal bad news for Villa. Liverpool have been wonderful this season. They have dropped just four points from their last 45 available and they were with draws to Manchester City and Tottenham. You could argue they have ground out a couple of results recently but that is to be expected with their schedule.
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Aston Villa will be without Jacob Ramsey, Leon Bailey and Kortney Hause in this match because of injury. Emi Buendia was given the number 10 role at Burnley on Saturday but Philippe Coutinho could get it back against his former club.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping to have his Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino back from injury for this match. That would allow him to give one of his front three a rest ahead of the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Clearly this match is all about Liverpool and I would imagine that they will be sent out with the intention of getting this match won as early as possible so that they can keep something in reserve for the cup final on Saturday and their quest to achieve an unprecedented quadruple. In Aston Villa they might just have the ideal opponents as well because the Villans have only beaten one top 10 side at home all season and that is Brighton, who might only be there because they have played more matches than anyone else.
Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have all been to Villa Park and come away with comfortable enough victories and there has to be the chance of Liverpool doing likewise. They have had to be patient in recent times but I think they can get on top of this Villa side early. Villa won at Burnley on Saturday but a Clarets team not known for their attacking prowess still generated an xG total of 1.62. A much more vibrant, confident Liverpool attack can feast on this Villa defence, get ahead early and manage themselves to a much needed victory.
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