Liverpool VS Aston Villa LIVE Football Match Score 20/05/2023
Taking to the Anfield turf for the final time in the 2022-23 Premier League season, Liverpool welcome Aston Villa to Merseyside for Saturday afternoon’s showdown. The Reds are seeking an eighth successive victory to remain on the coat-tails of the top four, while Unai Emery’s side still harbour ambitions of a spot on the continent.To the unbridled delight of the away section at the King Power Stadium and fans watching on from home, two of Liverpool’s local lads came up with the goods in Monday’s 3-0 thumping of Leicester City, who were made to pay after failing to build on a fast start against Jurgen Klopp’s in-form troops.
A quickfire Curtis Jones brace sparked a chorus of boos from the home crowd at half time, before Trent Alexander-Arnold picked out the top corner with aplomb to rub salt into the wounds for Leicester, who became the latest victims of Liverpool’s end-of-season surge.
Fighting until the end to retain their status as a Champions League club, Liverpool’s three-goal thumping of the Foxes leave Klopp’s men one point adrift of Manchester United and Newcastle United in fifth place, although both teams still have a game in hand – the Magpies will play theirs against Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday night.
The damage may have already been done earlier in the season regarding Liverpool’s top-four aspirations, but a run of three successive clean sheets is a sight for Klopp’s sore eyes, and the Reds have strung together an 11-game unbeaten home sequence in the Premier League, taking 29 points from those 33 on offer.
Furthermore, not since a 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace in the 2014-15 campaign have Liverpool suffered defeat in their final home match of the season, and Saturday’s visiting head coach already has a plethora of painful memories from his previous sojourns to the red half of Merseyside.Seven years on from masterminding Sevilla’s Europa League final triumph over Liverpool in 2016, Emery is appropriately winless in seven successive fixtures with Liverpool, who always had Arsenal’s number during his ill-fated North London stint.
However, speaking of North London teams experiencing miserable fortunes, that is exactly what happened to Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park last weekend, as an early Jacob Ramsey effort and a Douglas Luiz free kick – which Fraser Forster arguably should have done better with – propelled the Lions into a thoroughly merited two-goal advantage.
A controversially-awarded Harry Kane spot kick cut the deficit in half in the dying embers, but it was too little too late for a lacklustre Spurs, who now only find themselves clear of eighth-placed Villa on goal difference as the battle for Europa Conference League football intensifies.
While Emery has turned Villa Park into an intimidating fortress, shortcomings on the road are beginning to bedevil his charges; the Lions have lost their last two away from home against Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers without scoring, while also being held to a 1-1 draw versus Brentford before that.
Aside from their freak 7-2 success during the behind-closed-doors COVID-19 era, Villa have experienced little joy versus Liverpool in recent times too. A 3-1 reverse at Villa Park on Boxing Day stretched the visitors’ losing streak against the Reds to five matches, and not since a Gabriel Agbonlahor winner in 2014 have they come away from Anfield with all three points in the bag. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that all of Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner would depart Liverpool upon the expiration of their contracts in June, and tributes will be paid to the quartet for their final home game in Merseyside red.
Klopp is optimistic that Firmino will recover from a muscular issue in time for his farewell Anfield appearance, but Keita is more uncertain, while Thiago Alcantara (hip), Stefan Bajcetic (adductor) and Calvin Ramsay (knee) remain out for the long-term.
Darwin Nunez has also joined the absentee list after a toe problem kept him out of the win over Leicester, but soon-to-be free agent Firmino would expect to temporarily demote the Uruguayan in the pecking order either way – a spot on the bench and emotional cameo role will await the former if he can prove his fitness in time.
In contrast to his compatriot, Firmino’s international teammate Philippe Coutinho will miss out on a reunion with his former club after picking up an unspecified injury, but the former Reds attacker would have only made the bench either way.
With Matty Cash returning to the matchday squad versus Tottenham after shaking off a calf problem, backup goalkeeper Jed Steer – who is out for the season with a calf injury of his own – will be the Lions’ only other injury absentee for the trip to Anfield. Calum Chambers is expected to travel despite a recent illness.
Despite last week’s victory, would not be a shock to see Boubacar Kamara reintroduced into the fray for a touch of midfield steel, in turn pushing Leon Bailey out of the XI as John McGinn takes up a wide role.
The Reds side have now won seven games in a row and sit just a point outside the top four as they continue to chase down Manchester United and Newcastle.
To stand any chance of pushing it to the wire, however, the Reds need to win both of their remaining games.
Villa are flying under Unai Emery and have claimed big scalps against Newcastle and Tottenham of late.
One of the best teams in the Premier League at the moment, it’s Liverpool’s last true test this season. Darwin Nunez was not involved against Leicester and remains injured, while Curtis Jones will continue after playing a starring role against Leicester.
For Villa, Philippe Coutinho is the only injury concern as things stand. Matty Cash is available and Calum Chambers should recover from illness in time to make the trip to Anfield. Liverpool haven’t proven overly convincing in every game of their winning run but are now riding the crest of a wave. Villa will put up a good fight but the Anfield factor could be key.
The Reds still have a little bit of ground to make up in their top-four chase but could hardly have done more over the past few weeks, heading into this game on a streak of seven consecutive victories.
Their opponents have climbed their way up into the battle for a spot in either the Europa League or Europa Conference League and cannot afford any slip-ups if they want to remain in that position. An injury will prevent Naby Keita from receiving an on-field farewell in his final home game, but Roberto Firmino, who is also leaving this summer, might recover from a muscle problem to be given a round of applause off the bench.
Darwin Nunez has a toe problem which could prevent him from starting, but Thiago Alcantara, Stefan Bajcetic and Calvin Ramsay all remain out.Reserve goalkeeper Jed Steer is a confirmed absentee and he may be joined on the treatment table by ex-Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho, who will face a late fitness test after missing training in midweek.
Villa are a formidable outfit but their goalscoring exploits have begun to slow down in recent weeks, which does not bode well for their trip to Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been back at their scintillating best following the boss’ tactical shift, scoring plenty of goals and brushing off their last seven opponents. Liverpool will definitely be confident of extending that unbeaten streak to eight games.
It won’t be a blowout victory like we have seen from Liverpool in recent weeks, but it should be comfortable enough.
This feels like the kind of game where Aston Villa boss Unai Emery could go and set his team up to frustrate Liverpool and carry a threat on the counter.
I am certainly not discounting Villa here but Liverpool have such great momentum after winning their past seven games that I can’t see them stumbling. They will attack Villa, and they may even overwhelm them.
The Reds play bottom side Southampton in their final game of the season so I am expecting them to finish on 71 points – they will need Newcastle or Manchester United to slip up to let them sneak into the top four.