Midfield headache, defensive issues and injury concerns: Liverpool have quite a few worries ahead of the Aston Villa match
This Saturday, football fans will be treated to a sneak peek of one of the EFL Cup quarter-finals when Aston Villa welcome the current league leaders Liverpool to Villa Park. Days after being drawn against each other for the EFL cup competition, the two will now face each other in the Premier League in a quest to seal three important points.
Held to a draw at Old Trafford against the Red Devils, Jurgen Klopp’s men returned to winning ways against Tottenham Hotspur. Having secured nine wins out of 10, the Reds will be looking for a win to maintain their six-point lead over Manchester City.
Meanwhile Aston Villa, currently three points above the relegation zone, will be looking for a positive result against Liverpool to boost their Premier League campaign.
There are quite a few points to ponder for Liverpool ahead of the match though. Here's a look at three of them:
#1 The midfield headache
Klopp has a serious midfield problem on his hands this weekend. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is slowly rediscovering the form he was in before his injury, and makes a serious case for a start. Two goals against Genk in the Champions League and a crucial one in the EFL Cup against former club Arsenal mean he is guaranteed to make the bench at least.
With Fabinho only a yellow card away from suspension, Klopp may consider resting him, especially with Manchester City only a few days away. That way Oxlade-Chamberlain could find himself starting alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Meanwhile, Liverpool would still be sweating on the fitness of their expensive midfielder Naby Keita.
#2 Defensive issues
Joel Matip’s absence has come at a very wrong time for Liverpool. With the number of games lined up for the Reds and with Virgil van Dijk being the only constant, Matip’s injury means Dejan Lovren will get more chances.
The EFL Cup game against Arsenal saw the young recruit Sepp van den Berg partnering Joe Gomez and conceding five goals against the Gunners, which more or less writes off Gomez’s chance to start on Saturday.
Clean sheets have been hard to come by for Liverpool in the Premier League, with Alisson Becker’s return not making that much of a difference to the defense.
But if Liverpool have conceded eight goals then Aston Villa have conceded twice as many. They are -1 on goal difference, and a humbling 3-0 defeat against Manchester City confirmed their defensive frailties.
This Saturday, it’s a battle of Van Dijk on one side and Tyrone Mings on the other side.
#3 Key player injury worries
Mohamed Salah had to be replaced twice in the final minutes of the match for a knock he sustained in the match against Leicester City. The Egyptian star, though on the scoresheet, has found it difficult to finish matches due to his ongoing injury trouble.
Although not feared to be a major concern, Salah is yet to hit the terrorizing form he was in before the injury, which could be a relief for Aston Villa.
Villa have also got a major injury concern with the young captain Jack Grealish having to be substituted due to injury against Manchester City. Grealish confirmed that the injury was not as bad as they suspected but if Aston Villa had to welcome Liverpool without their captain, it would be a serious cause of concern for Dean Smith's men.