Aston Villa resume their Premier League campaign on Boxing Day when they host Liverpool at Villa Park on Monday evening.
Unai Emery got off to the perfect start with two wins in as many Premier League games in November and will aim to pick up where he left off against Liverpool. In a bid to keep the team fit and in shape over the World Cup break, Aston Villa played two friendlies in Dubai earlier this month against Brighton and Chelsea and registered back-to-back victories.
However, the Villans suffered consecutive defeats to Villarreal and Everton in their final warm-up games before the Premier League’s return.
Aston Villa Team News
Emiliano Martinez is set to miss Aston Villa’s Boxing Day fixture against Liverpool as he is yet to return from Argentina after helping his nation win the World Cup in Qatar.
World Cup stars such as Jan Bednarek, Matty Cash and Leander Dendoncker have all returned to training, while Philippe Coutinho is back in training after recovering from his injury and pushing himself to be involved against his former club.
Meanwhile, Diego Carlos (Achilles) remains a long-term absentee for Villa.
Predicted Aston Villa Lineup vs Liverpool (4-4-2)
In Emi Martinez’s absence, Robin Olsen will deputise in goal for Aston Villa against Liverpool. The experienced Swede must take his chance with both hands if he wants to keep his place intact in the first XI.
Ahead of Olsen, a back four of Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Lucas Digne could start. Konsa will resume his centre-back partnership with Mings, as the duo look to keep the likes of Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah quiet.
Cash and Digne are two attacking full-backs but they must stay defensively switched on throughout the 90 minutes to help their side bag a clean sheet on Boxing Day.
Up ahead in midfield, Boubacar Kamara is expected to start his first game at Villa Park since sustaining a knee injury back in September in the 1-0 win over Southampton. Kamara will line up alongside Douglas Luiz in the middle of the park and protect Villa’s backline.
Emery has used Jacob Ramsey as more of a wide midfielder in his fledgling tenure at Villa Park and that should remain the same on Monday. Ramsey will start on the left, while John McGinn hopes to add more bite and energy to the engine room from the other flank to help Villa dominate Liverpool in the middle of the park.
The dual force of Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey up top worked well before the World Cup break as Villa won both their Premier League outings under Emery. The Spanish manager is expected to retain that partnership of Watkins and Bailey, as the duo have the pace, power and flair to cause all kinds of problems to the shaky Liverpool backline.
Danny Ings, Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho would be offensive options on the bench which Emery may use when required.