Soccer tips: Liverpool vs Aston Villa - Reds can ruin Steven Gerrard’s return home

The Anfield legend has made an excellent start as the new boss of Aston Villa, but halting Jurgen Klopp’s title contenders on Saturday may be too big a task.

With Chelsea stuttering, Liverpool are now clear second favourites in the title race behind new leaders Manchester City.

The Reds have won their last six games in all competitions following the 3-2 reversal at West Ham, but that record could be challenged by another team in claret and blue on Saturday.

Aston Villa are the next visitors to Anfield and, of course, there's a huge sub-plot with Liverpool legend and now Villa boss Steven Gerrard returning to the scene of so many golden moments.

Many see Gerrard as the next LFC manager when Jurgen Klopp decides he's had enough. With that in mind, this will be a fascinating mix of past, present and maybe future when the two Liverpool icons go head-to-head.

When: Saturday, December 11, 15.00 GMT

Where: Anfield

Follow this game via our score centre

Best bets for Liverpool vs Aston Villa

Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 7/5

Diogo Jota to be first goalscorer at 15/4

Ollie Watkins to score anytime at 10/3

Liverpool were thrashed 7-2 by Aston Villa last season, undoubtedly one of the most remarkable Premier League games ever seen.

The scoreline was a one off but, to a large extent, so was the actual result.

Villa aren't some sort of bogey team for the Reds; in fact they've lost six of the last seven Premier League meetings against Liverpool.

The Reds won the Anfield return 2-1 and in Klopp's only other home game against the Villans, Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners.

Jurgen Klopp has had good days as well as bad against Villa

The German manager may also recall a 6-0 triumph at Villa Park in 2016, a game which saw current stars Divock Origi and James Milner find the net.

However, let's jump forward to the here and now and it's pretty obvious that Gerrard has made an excellent start since taking over from Dean Smith.

Villa have won three out of four and their only loss came against Manchester City. Even then they were competitive, pegging City back to 2-1 and forcing Pep Guardiola to blow his cheeks out in relief at the final whistle.

Their only away game in Gerrard's four-game tenure so far resulted in a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace thanks to goals from Matt Targett and John McGinn.

Last three meetings

Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa (April 10, 2021)

It seems astonishing now but Liverpool went into this game having lost their last six Premier League games at Anfield - a run that put their hopes of a top four finish in major jeopardy.

A seventh straight loss beckoned when Ollie Watkins put Villa in front just two minutes before the break, but Liverpool finally found some answers in the second half.

Mo Salah's header made it all square after 57 minutes - the Reds' first goal in open play at Anfield in over 12 hours - and Trent Alexander-Arnold curled in a superb winner a minute into added time. Not that there were any fans in the stadium to see it.

Aston Villa 1-4 Liverpool (January 08, 2021)

Having been demolished on their previous trip to Villa Park (see below), Liverpool arrested a few of those demons with a comfortable third round FA Cup win.

And yet, the victory came with a huge asterisk. Villa had suffered a coronavirus outbreak at their training ground, meaning they had to field a team of under-23 and under-18 players.

One of them, 17-year-old Louie Barry, even managed to wipe out Sadio Mane's early goal to send the two sides into the break at 1-1. Liverpool finally got going and settled the tie with three goals in five second-half minutes from Gini Wijnaldum, Mane and Salah.

Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool (October 04, 2020)

Liverpool conceded seven in a match for the first time since 1963 as Villa tore the champions to shreds in a remarkable clash at Villa Park.

Ollie Watkins smashed in a first-half hat-trick, Jack Grealish netted a double after the break while further goals from John McGinn and Ross Barkley completed one of the most astonishing results in history.

Grealish also bagged a hat-trick of assists while Salah netted shell-shocked Liverpool's goals after 33 and 60.

Past 10 meetings

Liverpool wins: 7

Draws: 0

Aston Villa wins: 3

Liverpool goals: 24

Aston Villa goals: 19

Reds should be too strong

Add in their impressive finish to last season and Liverpool have won 18, drawn six and lost just one of their last 25 Premier League games.

They scored in all of them and one other stat which reflects their firepower is that the Reds have netted at least twice in 19 of their last 20 games in all competitions.

Having made a mockery of their so-called Champions League 'Group of Death' by winning all six games and becoming the first English side to bag all 18 points, it's pretty clear that Klopp's side are near the peak of their powers again.

You can guarantee that Gerrard will be desperate to show the Liverpool fans what he can do as a manager and I expect Villa to be competitive.

But can their defence really keep Salah, Mane and Jota at bay?

Liverpool have been scoring goals for fun this season

Logic says not, so on the vast majority of recent evidence, Villa may have to score at least twice to have a realistic chance of grabbing a point, something which Brighton managed to be fair.

And yet even if Villa did net twice, Liverpool are still more than capable of going through the gears and outscoring them.

Overall, I can see Villa coming up with a goal and, if so, that has a dramatic effect on the Liverpool win price.

The hosts are just 2/9 to take victory but Liverpool to win and both teams to score inflates that to a much more palatable 7/5. Take it.

Goalscorer bets for Liverpool vs Aston Villa

Diogo Jota was guilty of one of the misses of the season at his former club Wolves last weekend.

Diogo Jota can set Liverpool on their way

Thankfully for him and Liverpool, super-sub Divock Origi spared his blushes by netting an injury-time winner.

Jota sat out the midweek win in Milan and will be raring to go again here.

That howler against Wolves when he blasted the ball straight at Connor Coady - one of two Wolves defenders on the goal-line - rather than slotting it either side is very much the exception to the rule though.

The Portuguese frontman has been a huge success since switching to the red of Liverpool and he's the third top scorer in the Premier League this season with eight goals. Yep, that's two more than his celebrated compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo.

At Anfield, Jota has scored the opener against BurnleyAtletico Madrid and Southampton so I'm going to back him at 15/4 to bag the game's first goal.

Even in that 7-2 hammering, Salah walked off with his head held high after scoring both Liverpool goals.

He's on fire this season but his price is getting shorter and the Egyptian is just 1/2 to net again.

I'll leave that and, instead, have a punt on Ollie Watkins to score anytime at a healthy 10/3.

The Villa striker got a hat-trick in that 7-2 romp and also scored in the 2-1 defeat at Anfield last season so has four goals in his last two games against Liverpool.

Ollie Watkins has a great record against Liverpool

He's also scored three in his last six Premier League games so returns to Merseyside with confidence high.

READ MORE: Chelsea? Juventus, Newcastle? Where might Eden Hazard go next?

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