Liverpool vs. Aston Villa: Premier League betting odds, preview, and pick
Anfield will be buzzing on Saturday as Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard returns home as manager of Aston Villa to take on his former club.
Let's dive into the matchup, beginning with the latest betting odds.
Sat, December 11 2021, 3:00 PM
Liverpool flying high at the moment
Winners of six straight matches in all competitions, Jurgen Klopp’s side is on an outstanding run of form. Their 2-1 victory midweek over AC Milan saw them become the first English side to ever win all six of their Champions League group stage matches, and they did it with a heavily rotated squad. Numerous starters were rested following a late 1-0 victory over Wolves, which saw Diogo Jota miss a sitter before cult hero Divock Origi’s 94th minute winner captured all three points.
Liverpool dominated the match, forcing nearly 30 clearances from a stout Wolves defense, and rightly deserved the victory. Star winger Mo Salah, in blazing form at the moment, assisted the goal, giving him a goal involvement in each of his last seven matches. He now has eight goals and five assists in his last 10 starts across all competitions, and is running away with the league Golden Boot race.
One point back of Manchester City atop the table, Liverpool will be keen to take as many points as possible over the next month before Salah and Sadio Mane depart for the Africa Cup of Nations. They should have a nearly full squad this weekend, as Naby Keita and Joe Gomez returned as subs against Milan. Only Bobby Firmino and Curtis Jones are expected to miss the match through injury.
Gerrard has revitalized Villa since taking over
Since replacing former manager Dean Smith, Gerrard has hit the ground running at Villa Park and has his side sitting currently 10th in the Premier League table. He has led the side to three wins in his first four matches, the lone blemish being a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City. This will be just his second match away from home, the first being a 2-1 win over Palace on Nov. 27. Last weekend, Gerrard defeated his former manager, Brendan Rodgers, with a 2-1 comeback victory over Leicester City.
For Gerrard, it will be an emotional moment, as he makes his first appearance in a competitive match at Anfield in any capacity since May 2015, when he said goodbye to the Kop following a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace. The former club legend captained his side to numerous trophies, including the famous comeback victory in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul. He has made a name for himself as a manager as well, leading Rangers to their first Scottish title in 10 years in the 2020-21 season, a campaign in which he did not lose a single domestic match.
Gerrard also is viewed by many as the potential successor to Klopp, who has stated he plans to take a year away from the sport when his contract ends at the end of the 2023-24 season. That said, Gerrard is keen to push out all the distractions once the whistle blows, and defeat the club he was a boyhood fan of and the manager who helped him earn his coaching license. Gerrard cut his managerial chops under Klopp as the manager of Liverpool’s U-18 team for a year and a half prior to heading to Rangers.
Steven Gerrard has nothing sentimental on his mind ahead of Aston Villa's trip to Anfield next weekend... 🔴🔙— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 6, 2021
Under Gerrard’s tutelage, there has been a strong turn of form for key players Emiliano Martinez, John McGinn, and Tyrone Mings. All three will need strong showings against the Reds if they are to pull off the shock result. The return of Danny Ings, a former Liverpool player himself, to the lineup from injury would be a massive boost in attack. There is also a chance Matt Targett returns at left back from injury, which could see Ashley Young push into the left midfield role to help slow down Salah.
Don't expect a triumphant return for Gerrard
While the fans will cheer Gerrard as he walks from the tunnel, there will be no quarter given him once the match kicks off. Liverpool have won their last four home matches in all competitions at Anfield, outscoring their opposition 12-0 in the process. On the whole, they have won six of their last seven matches and have scored 21 goals while conceding only five—three of which came in a 3-2 defeat against West Ham on November 7.
Meanwhile, Villa’s success under Gerrard has come despite being short-handed due to injuries, and he will have some tough lineup decisions to make. Gerrard is still without key players Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore, and while the return of Ings will be helpful, he is going to have to play more defensively than usual to negate the threat of Salah and Mane.
Wolves put up a heroic defensive performance last week, and you could argue they should have still conceded at least two, if not three, goals on the day. Villa are much improved of late, but their defense is simply not equipped to shut down Salah and company. I expect Villa to be pinned back much of the match, with Gerrard leaving Anfield hearing the familiar sound of the Kop cheering after a home win.
Score prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa