When Liverpool travels to Aston Villa on Tuesday evening, Steven Gerrard will look to strike another dent in his old club’s Premier League title chances.
The Lions beat Burnley 3-1 at the weekend, while Jurgen Klopp’s team had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Villa are threatening to burst into the top half of the Premier League standings after taking seven points from the previous nine available and conceding only once in that time. They are currently in 11th place, with Newcastle United and Leicester City both failing to overtake them on Sunday.
Gerrard, who never won a Premier League title with Liverpool as a player, cannot afford to get sentimental ahead of Tuesday’s game, with the 41-year-old – and the Anfield crowd – fully aware of the challenge ahead of him at Villa Park.
Liverpool’s six-game winning streak in all competitions and 12-game winning streak at Anfield in the Premier League came to an end at the weekend, but they are still unbeaten in 16 domestic matches and have kept clean sheets in four of their past five away from home in the top tier.
Klopp and the Kop will undoubtedly recall the 7-2 humiliation ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Villa Park, but they have since won three in a straight against Villa in all competitions and will not be sympathetic to Gerrard as long as the quadruple dream remains alive.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard has no new injury concerns to report from the weekend, but midfielder Jacob Ramsey was absent again after sustaining a groin issue in training.
Kortney Hause’s abdominal condition will certainly keep him out for a little longer, and it’s unclear whether Leon Bailey will be able to return from an ankle injury in time to play before the season ends.
Philippe Coutinho, an ex-Liverpool player, was benched in the win over Burnley, and Gerrard will be reticent to change a winning formula despite the short turnaround, while Danny Ings, another former Red, leads the charge.
Roberto Firmino returned to training before Liverpool’s win over Tottenham, and while he was not risked for the match, he should be able to apply for a place in the team this week.
Klopp has no further injury concerns, but he is likely to make some changes in the run-up to the FA Cup final, as Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas vie for starts at full-back.
Naby Keita and Diogo Jota can also be optimistic about starting this week, while Ibrahima Konate was given the nod for the Tottenham tie but may now have to make way for Joel Matip, who has returned from injury.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool
Villa don’t need any lessons in cutting through Liverpool’s high line, and the Lions’ recent form and a slew of ex-Reds looking to avenge their previous club might turn this into a nightmare for Klopp.
The Liverpool manager is certain to make changes to his team ahead of the FA Cup final this weekend, but he will be mindful that any more missed points basically kills their Premier League title aspirations. However, we believe Liverpool can scrape out a narrow win against a strong opponent.
Our betting tip – over 2.5 goals
Liverpool are the highest scorers on the road in the Premier League averaging 2.41 goals per game. And with Klopp expected to shuffle his defence and midfield a bit, Aston Villa may be presented with chances to also score.