Jurgen Klopp decided to rest all his key players for the League Cup match against Arsenal, which the Reds eventually won. It means that Liverpool will have their first choice XI for their league game today. Dean Smith’s side have been in decent form this season, but are fresh from a loss to Manchester City last weekend.
Villa have an exciting squad that will surely test the league leaders, especially in front of their home fans. But Liverpool have some star players, who can win their side the game within the blink of an eye. The quality in both squads will make for interesting viewing but here are three key battles that can decide the outcome of this tie:
3 Key Battles When Aston Villa Face Liverpool
Mohamed Salah vs Neil Taylor
Arguably the biggest test of the season for Villa’s 30-year old full-back Taylor will be against Salah this weekend. The Egyptian superstar is steadily finding his feet in front of goal and will be a real danger for the hosts. On the right flank, Salah will look to get past Taylor, who is not the quickest full-back in the league.
He will also cut in at times, and unless the Villa defender is on his toes for the full game, Salah will eventually win this battle. But if Taylor can keep Salah quiet, it will go a long way in Villa inflicting some damage on the visitors.
Jack Grealish vs Fabinho
Grealish has been Aston Villa’s best player so far this season and will be one to watch out for on this big occasion. He has two goals and an assist in the last three games and will look to control the game in the final third. If given space and time on the ball, Grealish is sure to produce chances galore but Klopp will have the likes of Fabinho keeping a close eye on him.
The Brazilian midfielder is just a booking away from suspension and will have to be careful. But against the trickery of Grealish, he will have his work cut out this weekend. This battle in the midfield could potentially decide the result of this game.
Sadio Mane vs Frederick Guilbert
But the most attractive battle in this game will be down Aston Villa’s right-flank. 24-year old Guilbert has been a consistent performer for Dean Smith’s side and has stood firm against the best of wingers in the league so far. But Sadio Mane is a different breed.
His turn of pace and ability to create spaces for his teammates will have Guilbert on his toes for most of the game. Mane can create chances, can test Tom Heaton on goal and will look to control the game on the flank, something the Villa defender needs to be aware of. Unless Guilbert wins this battle, Villa have very little chances of taking something from this game.