Liverpool FC vs. Aston Villa FC
Saturday, December 11, 2021 – 10:00 AM EST at Anfield
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard will return to his spiritual home when the Reds take on Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.
Gerrard spent 12 years as Liverpool captain and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the club’s illustrious history. Yet he will be in the opposite dugout on Saturday as he leads his Aston Villa side into battle.
Liverpool is the heavy favorite to prevail, but Aston Villa has been galvanized since Gerrard took the reins, so it could be an entertaining clash.
A Revitalized Aston Villa
Aston Villa fired manager Dean Smith on November 7 after he presided over a run of five straight defeats.
The board turned to Gerrard, who won the Scottish Premiership title with Rangers last season, as his replacement. That could turn out to be a shrewd decision.
Gerrard’s first game in charge was a 2-0 win against Brighton, and he then followed it up with a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace. Villa lost 2-1 to reigning Premier League champion Manchester City in his third game in charge, but it then bounced back with a 2-1 victory over a talented Leicester team last weekend.
That result left Aston Villa 10th in the Premier League table, and there is a newfound sense of optimism among the fans.
Liverpool Embark on Winning Streak
Liverpool has won four Premier League games in a row, and it is now just one point behind league leader Man City. It also beat AC Milan in midweek to maintain its 100% winning record in the Champions League this season.
The Reds welcomed key defender Virgil Van Dijk back from injury at the start of the season, which quickly transformed them into title contenders once again. They have 10 wins, four draws, and just one defeat from 15 games so far.
Liverpool is also the top-scoring team in the Premier League this season, having already banged in 44 goals. It has the third-best defensive record, with 12 goals conceded.
It is unbeaten at Anfield, with four wins and three draws from seven home games. On the road, Aston Villa has two wins and five defeats from seven games.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was able to rest several key players for that 2-1 win against AC Milan in midweek. The likes of Alisson Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, and Thiago Alcântara will be fresh for this clash with Villa.
Diogo Jota has a knock and he faces a late fitness test. Roberto Firmino is not quite ready to return to the starting 11 as he recovers from a thigh injury, so Divock Origi could start alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané in attack if Jota is not fit.
Aston Villa’s star striker Danny Ings – a former Liverpool player – is on the brink of a return from injury. He could make the bench for this game, with Ollie Watkins starting upfront. Wingers Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore are injured, but Matt Targett could be back.
Aston Villa has found the back of the net in all four games since Gerrard took the reins, and it has scored in 13 out of 15 games so far this season. It has the quality to cause problems for the Liverpool defense, but the Reds should ultimately be too strong for Villa. Also tempting, Mané to score at +125 as he has eight goals in eight career games against Aston Villa.