Steven Gerrard makes a return to where it all began as he takes his Aston Villa players to face Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
Gerrard will be making his managerial debut at the stadium in which he soared so high as a player, looking for a fourth victory as Villa boss. So far, he has overseen victories over Brighton, Crystal Palace and most recently Leicester, while also seeing his men narrowly lose 2-1 to a herculean Manchester City side.
After impressing in the short time he’s had at Villa Park, he’ll face another daunting task in the shape of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have lost just once in all competitions throughout the 2021/22 campaign thus far. They currently occupy second spot in the Premier League table and head into the weekend having completed a perfect Champions League group stage with a 2-1 victory at AC Milan in midweek.
Here’s 90min’s preview of an intriguing occasion.
When is kick off? Saturday 11 December, 15:00 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Anfield, Liverpool
What TV channel is it on? Not televised in the UK, fuboTV (US)
Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channel
Who’s the referee? Stuart Attwell
Who’s the VAR? Lee Mason
The hosts were handed a boost in midweek as both Naby Keita and Joe Gomez were fit enough to make cameos in Milan, although a start at the weekend may be unlikely for either.
Elsewhere, Klopp will once more have to contend without Roberto Firmino, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones – all of whom continue their recoveries from injury.
You can read Liverpool’s predicted lineup vs Aston Villa here.
Gerrard will one again be without Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore, although fellow attacker Trezeguet could be in line for some sort of inclusion after recently making a return from injury for the club’s Under-23 side.
Elsewhere, Danny Ings may be available to feature for the Villans against his former employers, although Gerrard isn’t expected to alter his lineup too much after a good win over Leicester last time out.
You can read Aston Villa’s predicted lineup vs Liverpool here.
Liverpool have held the upper hand in these two clubs’ 197 encounters over the years, boasting 98 wins to Aston villa’s 59 (40 draws).
In the sides’ seven meetings since Klopp has been in the Anfield dugout, Saturday’s hosts have won an impressive five – although have suffered heavy defeats in the other two fixtures.
Back in December 2019, a very youthful Liverpool side took to the field while the senior squad was competing in the Club World Cup and came out 5-0 losers. That was before Klopp’s senior players were jaw-droppingly humbled by Villa last October, falling to an incredible 7-2 defeat – as seen above.
We can pretty safely disregard any chance of a 7-2 thriller playing out on Saturday – although don’t discount a very watchable tie taking place.
Along with the overarching narrative of Gerrard’s return to Anfield, the football on the field should make this a thoroughly exciting game. Since the legendary midfielder’s appointment at Villa Park, there has been a visible increase in intensity and dynamism in the squad and, matching up against a Liverpool side famed for such traits, this should be an entertaining clash.
While the Villans have put on hugely encouraging displays in recent weeks, however, the story will likely unfold in similar fashion to their eventual defeat to Manchester City. There will be a good battle on the grass but, with that clearly superior quality and class available, Klopp’s side should edge the contest.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa