Aston Villa hosts Liverpool on Tuesday evening, and former Reds player Steven Gerrard will look to strike another dent in his old club’s Premier League title chances.
The Lions beat Burnley 3-1 at the weekend, while Jurgen Klopp’s team had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
While Gerrard and his Aston Villa team have yet to demonstrate that they can compete with the big boys, the Lions have welcomed back-to-back victories over two bottom-flight clubs in Norwich City and Burnley to stop their poor run of form over the Easter season.
After ensuring the Canaries’ relegation, Villa made Burnley’s survival mission much more tough with a 3-1 victory at Turf Moor on Saturday, with Danny Ings, Emiliano Buendia, and Ollie Watkins all scoring before Maxwel Cornet’s consolation.
Villa are threatening to burst into the top half of the Premier League standings after taking seven points from the previous nine available and conceding only once in that time. They are currently in 11th place, with Newcastle United and Leicester City both failing to overtake them on Sunday.
Gerrard, who never won a Premier League title with Liverpool as a player, cannot afford to get sentimental ahead of Tuesday’s game, with the 41-year-old – and the Anfield crowd – fully aware of the challenge ahead of him at Villa Park.
Even if he oversees a result that all but destroys Liverpool’s Premier League ambition, the ex-legacy midfielder’s with the Reds should not be ruined, but Villa have won just two of their previous eight home games in the top level, and a wounded Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard has no new injury concerns to report from the weekend, but midfielder Jacob Ramsey was absent again after sustaining a groin issue in training.
Kortney Hause’s abdominal condition will certainly keep him out for a little longer, and it’s unclear whether Leon Bailey will be able to return from an ankle injury in time to play before the season ends.
Philippe Coutinho, an ex-Liverpool player, was benched in the win over Burnley, and Gerrard will be reticent to change a winning formula despite the short turnaround, while Danny Ings, another former Red, leads the charge.
Roberto Firmino returned to training before Liverpool’s win over Tottenham, and while he was not risked for the match, he should be able to apply for a place in the team this week.
Klopp has no further injury concerns, but he is likely to make some changes in the run-up to the FA Cup final, as Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas vie for starts at full-back.
Naby Keita and Diogo Jota can also be optimistic about starting this week, while Ibrahima Konate was given the nod for the Tottenham tie but may now have to make way for Joel Matip, who has returned from injury.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Chambers, Luiz; Buendia; Ings, Watkins
Liverpool’s possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Keita, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz
The match between Aston Villa and Liverpool will take place at Villa Park on Tuesday, May 10 at 8 p.m. BST.
Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool is our prediction.
Villa don’t need any lessons in cutting through Liverpool’s high line, and the Lions’ recent form and a slew of ex-Reds looking to avenge their previous club might turn this into a nightmare for Klopp.
The Reds manager is certain to experiment with his team ahead of the FA Cup final on Saturday, but he will be conscious that any more missed points effectively kills their Premier League championship aspirations, and we believe Liverpool will scrape out a narrow win against a Villa side whose defense is far from watertight.