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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Liverpool v Aston Villa: Reds to show true selves

Liverpool v Aston Villa: Reds to show true selves

Andy Schooler is expecting a reaction from Liverpool when they host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday and he's backing a tried-and-tested selection...

Liverpool v Aston Villa
Sunday July 5, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event

Time for a Reds response

Hangover was a word being heavily associated with Liverpool on Thursday night as the champions were crushed 4-0 by Manchester City in their first game since securing the title.
Given the circumstances, the Reds can certainly be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball somewhat and while a four-goal defeat was a tad embarrassing, most observers know City are capable of going to town on most teams in that manner.
The key for punters now is to get a handle on how Jurgen Klopp's team will react.
It's impossible to know with great certainty but Klopp's post-match interview at the Etihad gave us some clues.
The German has never been a particularly gracious loser - the wind and opponents' injury-forced substitutions were blamed for disappointing results last season - but he was clearly irked by the heavy loss, even though he staunchly defended his players' attitude to the game.
One suspects he was rather more critical of them when they reassembled at Melwood ahead of this game and I'd expect him to have demanded a response.
Yes, there is really nothing riding on the results of Liverpool's last six games but turning the switch off now does not mean it can be turned straight back on in September (or whenever the new season is actually going to begin).
Klopp went strong on Thursday night, playing his best XI, but a sprinkling of changes can be expected here.
However, one area which will remain constant is the centre of defence where Virgil van Dijk (pictured below) and Joe Gomez are really the only options right now with Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren both injured.
While Gomez didn't have his best game at City, he did only play 45 minutes and that will be good news in terms of fatigue here.

Villa short on goals

Villa's goal-shy attack seem unlikely to trouble the pair in the same way Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus did the other night.
The relegation-threatened visitors have scored only two goals in four post-lockdown games (two in their last six if you count back beyond). In terms of points, they have taken just two from their last eight matches, their last win coming on New Year's Day.
Mbwana Samatta was joined up front by Keinan Davis against Wolves last week but the duo offered little threat with Jack Grealish once again looking the most likely source of goals, be it creating or scoring them.
At the back, Villa have conceded 33 goals in 16 away games - the most in the league - and it's hard to see how they will keep out a home side who have won 23 consecutive league games at Anfield, even if motivation levels have dipped.
Their form appears relegation-coated with only the travails of others raising hopes of survival.
Even boss Dean Smith is giving off negative vibes, bemoaning the fixture list, saying four games in 11 days was a "crazy" ask.
At least he's the beneficiary now - Villa go into this one after an eight-day break; Liverpool's turnaround is just three days.

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Hard to back visitors

That could be a factor; so too could that motivation issue.
Yet Liverpool's quality is far, far greater, even if they make a few changes, and they are 1.35 to win the game for good reason.
Yes, an argument can be made against them but the one for Villa - 10.00 for the victory - is thoroughly unconvincing. For the record, the draw can be backed at 6.00.
So what is the best way to get with the hosts?

Over 2.5 goals looks too short

You could go down the goals route. Over 2.5 in the game is, however, only 1.53, no surprise given 75% of Liverpool's home games and 69% of Villa's away ones have landed this bet.
There seems little value there and better, more attractively priced alternatives are available.
Liverpool to win with both teams scoring was considered at 2.66 - 10 of the Reds' 16 home wins have come this way.
Villa have also scored in six of their nine defeats against the top six but their current form is too off-putting for this to make the betslip.

HT/FT trend worth following

Instead, the half-time/full-time market makes appeal.
Liverpool-Liverpool has landed in 13 of the 16 games at Anfield this season with the Reds renowned fast starters.
They've scored the majority of their goals (36 of 70) in the first half of games this season, conceding only 11.
With a reaction expected after the City drubbing, minds should be focused with Liverpool more than capable of getting ahead by the interval.
They've won every game in which they've led this season so taking the 1.94 looks sensible business against poor opposition.

Opta fact

This will be Liverpool's first home league match since being confirmed Premier League champions for the first time - the Reds are unbeaten in 56 home league games, winning the last 23 in a row.