Liverpool vs Aston Villa Odds, Picks, Predictions | Premier League Preview
Pictured: Jurgen Klopp. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Liverpool vs Aston Villa Odds
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Liverpool returns home after a stunning come-from-behind win at Newcastle in which they were down a man and a goal in the first half. The Reds will play host to Aston Villa, who followed up a 5-1 opening day defeat with consecutive dominant wins against Everton and Burnley.
The Reds also bolstered their midfield at the conclusion of the summer transfer window on Friday, adding former Ajax and Bayern Munich youngster Ryan Gravenberch. He's unlikely to play in this fixture, but should be a key piece of the Liverpool midfield going forward.
Liverpool are facing a bit of a crisis in defense after last week though — Ibrahima Konate will miss the match with injury and Virgil van Dijk is suspended. That leaves manager Jurgen Klopp starting both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in central defense, a considerably worse duo than Konate and van Dijk.
The total has reacted to these defensive injuries, and Villa's style of play under Unai Emery makes for some wide-open matches when they face off against fellow top sides.
It's hard to get a sense of the Reds performances this season because they played down a man for an hour at Newcastle and for a half-hour against Bournemouth. There's not a ton of data on Liverpool at 11v11 this season, but the data we do have suggests they're going to be elite at creating chances, especially when Darwin Nunez, Mo Salah and Luis Diaz are all on the pitch at the same time.
Liverpool played Villa immediately after Emery took the job and the Reds were able to consistently exploit Aston Villa's high defensive line and insistence to build out from the back. The Reds won that match 3-1 and created 2.7 xG. They were close to creating even more if not for some very tight offside decisions.
Villa did a much better job of playing through Liverpool's press in the second meeting. Liverpool managed just 0.7 xG and needed a late equalizer from Roberto Firmino to salvage the point. The Reds have made a concerted effort to improve their age profile and athleticism in the midfield. The additions of Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister allow the Reds to cover a lot more ground and press with more energy, even if neither offers a ton of tackling and ball winning.
Klopp is expected to start Wataru Endo as the lone true defensive midfielder, but his numbers in the Bundesliga weren't that impressive.
Entering matchweek 3, only Brighton had created more expected goals than Aston Villa. The Villans don't have elite ball progression numbers or shot volume, but they're averaging 0.15 xG per shot, which is the best in the Premier League.
The sample is small, and the quality of the past two opponents has been rather low, but there are signs that Villa is an improved side from the one that won a lot of close and ugly games down the stretch last season.
Villa did a lot of winning to make its way into Europe under Emery in the spring, but a lot of it was driven by hot finishing variance at both ends of the pitch. Emiliano Martinez is doubtful for this matchup in goal for Villa, but they've been less reliant on him as a shot stopper against lesser sides.
Against Newcastle's press, Villa committed a ton of high turnovers and struggled away from home. I expect Sunday to be a bit of a repeat performance, except that Liverpool is even more vulnerable in transition defense. As a result, there will be chances for both teams at each end of the pitch.
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
Pick & Prediction
The market is aware that Liverpool is playing a more open style this season, but the injuries only further raise concern levels for their ability to slow down opponents in transition. The market has taken constant over money since opening, and I agree with that. My projections have 3.52 goals for this match, and I'd bet over 3.5 at anything plus money.
Villa might have some regression looming for its attack in the long run, but this matchup is a perfect one for them to generate a handful of scoring chances.