This afternoon sees Aston Villa journey to Liverpool needing a win. Dean Smith’s side are desperate for points as they fight for their lives at the bottom of the table, they are a point from safety with a game in hand but they can’t expect Jürgen Klopp’s side to make things easy for them.
The reverse fixture early in the season will go down as a defining moment of Liverpool’s title win. The Reds scored twice in the dying moments to win 2-1 at Villa Park in November, with Sadio Mane netting the winner in the 94th minute. Aston Villa know that Liverpool won’t want this to go down to the wire again, they’ll be facing a barrage. Here are three Aston Villa players Liverpool will need to stop at Anfield:
The obvious one, the main man, the local hero. Jack Grealish may be brash, he may be a bit of a loose cannon but he is one heck of a player. The England international is rumoured to be the subject of transfer interest from some of Europe’s top clubs but he will be determined to keep his boyhood side in the Premier League prior to any impending exit.
The versatile midfielder has been Villa’s leading light this season, contributing seven goals and six assists during a difficult campaign. He shows up in big games and will likely be playing on the left wing so we will need Trent Alexander-Arnold to stay alert throughout the game.
McGinn had a strong start to the season and put in impressive displays in wins against Chelsea and Newcastle United in November. However an ankle injury in November saw the Scotsman miss 15 games prior to the break. The central midfielder is back now and still trying to recover his best form.
The number seven’s strong dribbling ability could cause problems if he turns it on, we will be looking to Fabinho to stop the midfielder in his tracks.
Following a spell on the sidelines right back Frederic Guilbert is back in contention for Dean Smith’s side. The Frenchman has been critical to the Villa defence this season, earning a WhoScored.com rating of 7.06 during his 15 games at right back.
The Reds will be well aware that Villa’s right side of defence is their strongest and will likely be turning to Trent Alexander-Arnold to shoulder most of the creative burden.