Newly crowned Premier League Champions Liverpool will welcome relegation-threatened Aston Villa to Anfield on Sunday, for the Red’s first home game since winning their first title in 30 years.
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but 30 years is a long time. Since Liverpool’s last top-flight title in 1990, they have had to watch seven other sides, including Leicester, achieve a feat they couldn’t. But Willian’s penalty winner, in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over second-placed Manchester City last week, finally gave Liverpool fans the moment they’ve been dreaming of for three decades. And with the title firmly snatched off City, a win for Jurgen Klopp’s side on Sunday could give them one of five wins needed to break the record points haul, of 100 points, the Citizen’s set in the 2017-18 season.
Meanwhile, their visitors have experienced a very different 2019-20 campaign. Villa travel to Anfield one place and one point below the dotted relegation line, in 18th and Dean Smith’s men know they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they want to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
When and Where
The match will be held at Anfield on Sunday 5th July, which is also my birthday if you're interested. Kicking- off at 4:30pm.
The two sides have faced off a whopping 193 times in competitive action, with Liverpool winning 95 of those compared to Aston Villa’s 58. The remaining 40 ties have been drawn. The last league fixture between them, was Liverpool’s dramatic 2-1 win at Villa Park back in November, with Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane scoring in the 87th and 94th minutes respectively, to overturn an earlier strike by Trezeguet. However, Aston Villa got revenge a month later when they won 5-0 against Liverpool’s youngest ever starting line-up in the League Cup Quarter- Final.
Liverpool have beaten Aston Villa 88 times in league competition, more than they have beaten any other side.
Liverpool have no new injury problems heading into Sunday’s clash, but will still be without defenders Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne, as well as winger Xherdan Shaqiri who has not played since January.
Despite wrapping up the league, Red’s boss Jurgen Klopp is expected to put out the best side possible for the remaining six games after making it very clear he will not give out Premier League appearances like “Christmas present” to his younger players.
Matt Target injured his hamstring in Aston Villa’s 1-0 home loss to Wolves last week and will miss at least two games, joining Wesley and Tom Heaton on the sidelines for the away side.
Ezri Konsa also suffered a knock against Wolves and has missed training this week but is hopeful to play a part on Sunday. Danny Drinkwater and Fredric Guilbert may also play a part, after having not featured in any games since the Premier League’s resumption.
Borja Baston’s 18 minutes played in a Villa shirt will one day be a pub quiz question, as the Spanish striker’s short term contract has not been renewed by the club.
(L) 4-0 v Manchester City
(W) 4-0 v Crystal Palace
(D) 0-0 v Everton
(W) 2-1 v Bournemouth
(L) 3-0 v Watford
Liverpool’s big Premier League title party was crashed by an angry Manchester City on Wednesday, with Pep Guardiola’s side letting Liverpool know that even though they had walked the title this year, an in-form City are a scary prospect.
Prior to the thrashing at the Etihad, Liverpool had beaten Crystal Palace by the same scoreline City had beaten them by and taken part in possibly the most boring Merseyside Derby in history since the Premier League’s re-start. Their last two top-flight games before the Coronavirus lockdown, a 2-1 win against Bournemouth and their first loss of the season 3-0 away to Watford, seem like a lifetime ago.
(L) 1-0 v Wolves
(D) 1-1 v Newcastle
(L) 2-1 v Chelsea
(D) 0-0 v Sheffield United
(L) 4-0 v Leicester
Aston Villa are currently on the longest winless run of any Premier League side, with them having played eight games since a 2-1 victory over Watford in January. Dean Smith’s side featured in both the last game before and first game after the Coronavirus lockdown, losing the former 4-0 to 3rd placed Leicester and only drawing the later with Europe chasing Sheffield United, due to a goal-line technology fault, which failed to recognise Villa keeper Orjan Nyland had carried Oliver Norwood’s free-kick over the line. Since the tie with the Blades, the Villains have suffered losses to both Chelsea and to Wolves last week.
I’m sure you can probably guess which way I’m going to sway on this one, although the game earlier in the season was tight, Aston Villa have been on a horrendous run of form and despite the loss to City in the week, Liverpool are far too strong for them. This one should be a comfortable win for the champions.
Match Preview written by Jamie Perry.