Aston Villa will be looking to make a statement on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool, for whom their manager Steven Gerrard made more than 700 appearances as a player.
The 41-year-old has been an instant hit at Villa Park, with the Midlands side winning three of their four league games under the Englishman. The one exception was a 2-1 defeat to reigning champions Manchester City, a game in which Villa massively impressed despite the outcome.
Judging by the lineup which started against Pep Guardiola’s side recently, Gerrard won’t make wholesale defensive changes despite facing the league’s top scorers in Liverpool with 44 goals in 15 games. However, the Villans will be boosted by the return of one of their top performers of late in Matt Targett.
Here’s what Football FanCast are predicting in terms of the starting XI as Gerrard looks to get one over on his former club.
After an impressive 2-1 win against Leicester last Sunday, there is little need for Gerrard to make wholesale changes, with the 41-year-old seemingly starting to discover his best side. The only change is in the defence, with left-back Targett returning from the head injury that ruled him out of the Foxes clash.
As for the remainder of the back five, all have been solid so far under Gerrard, conceding four goals in four games as well as Ezri Konsa (two) and Tyrone Mings (one) scoring three goals combined under the new boss.
In the midfield, John McGinn has certainly been a standout performer, with SofaScore giving the Scotsman an average rating of 7.95 under the 41-year-old. Douglas Luiz and £34k-p/w earner Marvelous Nakamba have also impressed, with the midfield trio becoming more of a given as each game passes.
In terms of the front three, with the injury to Leon Bailey, Jacob Ramsey keeps his place in the side. The 20-year-old found the net against the Foxes last week but the goal was ruled out by VAR in bizarre circumstances.
The Englishman will be particularly vital if Villa are to leave Merseyside with a result, as Gerrard’s side are likely to be limited to few chances. If an opportunity appears, the striker will need to be clinical at Anfield today.