Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa appear to have done Liverpool a favour tonight. The Reds’ title charge hinges on them.
As everyone knows by now, Liverpool need Aston Villa to get a result on Sunday for the Reds to have any title chances. Their chances are slim – 18%, according to one analysis – but it’s still very possible.
Villa, of course, travel to face Manchester City. A draw or win for the Midlands club opens the door for Liverpool, where three points would then take the title to Anfield. That’s a big ask.
It’s an even bigger ask when you consider that Villa play tonight and City don’t. Pep Guardiola will lead a relatively fresh side at home as overwhelming favourites against a team with only a few days of rest.
Thus all eyes were on Villa’s lineup tonight. Would they rest any players for Sunday? Yes, as it turned out. Steven Gerrard may have done Liverpool a big favour.
Steven Gerrard does Liverpool a favour
Two names were conspicuously absent from Gerrard’s XI tonight. Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho both started on the bench, despite being regulars in the lineup this season.
Emiliano Buendia took the Brazilian’s place, while Villa handed a second Premier League start to Carney Chukwuemeka – a player Liverpool reportedly like. It’s easy to feel that Gerrard had one eye on players for Sunday as Villa try to get something off of City.
There’s also the fact that Gerrard opted to rest his two former Liverpool players for the game. Coincidentally, they’re two players Villa happened to Tweet a photo of just yesterday. And they’re the two that Reds’ fans will hope can produce something magic to score at the Etihad.
Gerrard has essentially guaranteed they feature on Sunday by leaving them out here. The stage is now firmly set for a huge day.