Express & Star

Liverpool v Aston Villa - Match preview

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is hopeful goalkeeper Emi Martinez will be available for their trip to Liverpool tomorrow.


The goalkeeper missed their visit to Burnley last weekend, as well as their Europa Conference League game against Hibernian with a ‘small injury’.

But after training on Friday, he is ‘hopeful’ he could be in contention for the trip to Anfield.

The game is, without doubt, the biggest test Emery’s side will have faced since their opening-day defeat at Newcastle.

Since then, Villa have responded superbly.

They have netted 15 goals, with Lyle Foster’s goal at Turf Moor on Sunday the only time the defence has been breached, despite key player Tyrone Mings being ruled out for a considerable amount of time through injury.

Albeit those results have been against fairly modest opponents and although you can only beat what is in front of you, they were all games you would expect a squad boasting as much talent as Villa’s to get by with ease.

So actually this game against Jurgen Klopp’s side will be a good test of where Villa actually are, and how much progress they have made as a team since the opening day.

Emery brought in reinforcements to his backline on deadline day, with Clement Lenglet arriving on loan from Barcelona – he played for Tottenham last season. The Villa boss said he was happy with the business they had done over the course of the summer to build a squad capable of playing in cups, league and European competitions – it is now his job as head coach to get the best out of them on field three times a week.

He made six changes to the team in midweek which included first starts for Youri Tielemans and Jhon Duran, but it would probably be safe to assume the starting XI from this clash will not be too far away from the team that featured in Lancashire last weekend. Last time Villa played at Anfield they performed well and were so close to snatching all three points – but they were denied by an 89th-minute equaliser from Roberto Firmino after Jacob Ramsey had put them ahead just before the half-hour mark.

They will be looking to emulate that display against a side that will still be on a high after their dramatic comeback against Newcastle last weekend.

Darwin Nunez was the man to bag a brace despite them being down to 10 men with the experienced Virgil Van Dijk given his marching orders earlier in the clash – which of course, rules him out on Sunday.

Since Emery came in, Villa have made significant strides forward on the pitch, but with high aspirations and the targets of finishing in the European places or higher again this season, games against those around them who are competing for similar objectives are ones they cannot afford to lose too often.