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Monday, April 22, 2024

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Premier League: Aston Villa vs Liverpool; “I am slightly concerned”

No Thiago. No Sadio Mane. Both positive for Covid-19. It is a concern, but the show must and will go on against Aston Villa on Sunday. 

It has happened in other European leagues and they have either carried on or just postponed the game. 

So, it will be treated as a normal illness/injury for football players and there will be no ridiculous null and void suggestions. 

However, it is of course worrying especially with an international break up next when players will be travelling all over the world. 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shared this view in his pre-match press conference.  

He said: “I don’t want to sound disrespectful as we don’t know what other countries are doing at the moment. 

“But you want your family around you at times like this, and football team is the same. I am slightly concerned. It’s difficult to get in contact with all FAs over the world.” 

Another problem with the international games for Liverpool and Klopp is that for some reason captain Jordan Henderson has been called up. 

He has been injured since the Chelsea victory and has not had any action so the fact he is being rushed into the England squad is not great. 

He may get some time to play against Aston Villa though as Jurgen Klopp explained: “He has no issues. He’s not injured any more.  

“Now we have to see if he can make the next step, what that means for the weekend we don’t know yet.” 

The captain would be a welcome addition into the squad for Sunday, but the likelihood is he will just be regaining his fitness in England training in time for the derby. 

Henderson is the only possible returnee from the injured players with Kostas Tsimikas, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all still unavailable. 

Joe Gomez recovered from his injury that ruled him out against Chelsea a couple of weeks back and played against Arsenal in both the league and Carabao Cup.  

He had an exceptional game in the victory against The Gunners and is expected to slot alongside Virgil Van Dijk with Fabinho sitting in front of them. 

The full backs pick themselves and it looks set to be Georginio Wijnaldum next to Naby Keita yet again in the midfield. 

Normally the front three would also pick themselves but with Sadio Mane self-isolating Diogo Jota could get his full Premier League debut for the side. 

The versatile Portuguese forward came on and grabbed his first goal for the club last Monday whilst also getting his first start in mid-week. He has looked like a great asset so far and hopefully he can continue his bright start to his Liverpool career against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa potentially winning the game for them. 

Aston Villa will potentially be starting with their brand-new signing, born and bred scouser, Ross Barkley which should add an extra incentive to the game. The Evertonian will be hoping he can keep Everton top of the table with a match-winning performance of his own. 

Villa have had a strong start to their league season winning two out of two and Jack Grealish has, as always, been their star man.  

He pops up in all attacking areas as he is free to roam about but he enjoys coming in off the left so Alexander-Arnold will have to be on his best defensive game like he was against Aubameyang last week. 

Last season the game at Villa park was for many supporters the time they knew. They knew the Premier League title was theirs too celebrate. 

An 87th minute equaliser then a last gasp winner from Mane. The away end scenes were a joy to behold. This time there will only be the echoes from that winner in the away section. 

Also, this time it is not a decider for anything. 

Liverpool need to win this game to keep up their impressive start and to make sure no side gets a sense of encouragement from a below par performance, especially Everton. 

Sunday night football. It is a rarity but so is how good this Liverpool team is so settle in and enjoy it as The Reds look to go top of the table before the horrid international break. 

Written by Elliot Thompson

READ MORE: Guidance ahead of first weekend under Liverpool City Region restrictions – Merseyside Police

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