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Two of the most in-form team in the Premier League are set to do battle at Anfield on Saturday afternoon as Liverpool host Aston Villa. The Reds have been in tremendous form since the start of April and haven’t lost a game since they lost the Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
A run of seven successive wins has left them with an outside chance of finishing inside the top four although they are going to need help from the teams facing Manchester United across the final few games of the season if they are to achieve that. Regardless, the Reds know that if they are to stand any chance then they will need to beat Aston Villa on Saturday and Southampton next weekend.
Villa themselves are still riding a wave since the club sacked Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard in October. His replacement, Unai Emery, has flourished in the role and has taken them on an incredible run of results that has put them in with a chance of playing European football next season. A win tomorrow could see them move up to 7th position, which would be enough for Europa Conference League qualification.
The match between Liverpool and Aston Villa is set to kick off at 15:00 UK time and the match isn’t being televised in the United Kingdom.
Liverpool Team News: Will Klopp give Roberto Firmino a final Anfield start?
Earlier this week, Liverpool confirmed that Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita will all leave the club this summer when their contracts expire. Firmino and Milner are Liverpool legends having both played key roles in the club’s success under Jurgen Klopp while Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita have both had disappointing spells at Anfield.
If Liverpool weren’t playing for anything against Aston Villa, something that looked likely just a few weeks ago, then Klopp would almost certainly have started Firmino and Milner to give them an emotional farewell in front of the Anfield crowd. With Liverpool still eyeing a top-four spot, however, the pair will have to settle for a late cameo.
The final Anfield farewell to this man tomorrow. What a legend.
Roberto Firmino 🇧🇷⭐️
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) May 19, 2023
In terms of injury concerns, Thiago and Bajcetic remain out while Naby Keita is a doubt meaning he may not get to say his goodbyes. Curtis Jones, who has flourished in recent times, will continue in midfield as he looks to save the club millions by removing the need to purchase a new midfielder in the summer.
Darwin Nunez is still struggling with the toe problem that kept him out of the game with Leicester so the front three of Salah, Diaz and Gakpo is expected to continue against Aston Villa.
Aston Villa Team News: Will Coutinho be available for Anfield reunion?
Unai Emery only has one major concern going into the game and that revolves around the fitness of Phillipe Coutinho. The Brazilian has failed to live up to expectations since moving to Villa from Barcelona but would like to be able to play in this one considering it is against the club where he made a name for himself.
Coutinho back at Anfield for Firmino's final game at Anfield ♥️ pic.twitter.com/MVHT9djzCr
— Anything Liverpool (@AnythingLFC_) May 17, 2023
Matty Cash could make his first start since the March international break after he returned to the bench last weekend against Tottenham. The highly-rated fullback had been suffering with a calf problem but was deemed fit enough to be an unused substitute at Villa Park last week.
If Villa are to get anything out of this one then Emery will be banking on another impressive performance from Ollie Watkins. The centre-forward has excelled since Emery took over and has netted eleven Premier League goals since the turn of the year. Emi Buendia will play behind him with Leon Bailey and Jacob Ramsey expected to occupy the wings.
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