After a humbling defeat to Manchester City last time out, Liverpool will hope for better in their first home game as champions when they take on Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Anfield, Liverpool, England
Key Stat: Liverpool have won their last 23 consecutive Premier League home matches.
Expert Verdict: Liverpool were humbled at Manchester City in their first game as Premier League champions, suffering a crushing 4-0 defeat that could even have been worse. They have a dominant record at Anfield - albeit they will be without their home fans for this one - but they will still expect to bounce back against relegation-battling Aston Villa.
Jurgen Klopp may consider changes after the defeat last time out with a few players not at the races. The team that started was Liverpool’s best XI, but Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are among those pushing for inclusion this time.
Sadio Mane – Scored the winner when these teams last met and has 15 league goals in total this season as he chases another Golden Boot.
Mo Salah – Scored his 17th league goal of the season against Crystal Palace but he needs a strong finish to the season if he is to claim that Golden Boot once again.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Plenty of assists this season and capable of goals too – as he proved against Palace. He may have something to prove in this match.
Liverpool kept two clean sheets on their return to action, as they drew with Everton and beat Crystal Palace 4-0 to seal their first Premier League title and first top-flight success for 30 years. Their first game as champions ended in a crushing 4-0 defeat to Manchester City, however.
Defenders:Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson
Midfielders:Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Forwards:Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane
Tom Heaton and Wesley are on the long-term injury list and Matt Tartgett is sidelined too. Bjorn Engels will miss out, but Frederic Guilbert may be in contention. With Targett out, Neil Taylor could start at left-back in what is unlikely to be the only change for Villa.
Jack Grealish – The key man in Aston Villa’s bid for survival, the creative attacking midfielder tops the goals and assists charts.
John McGinn – Pushing for a return in midfield, where he will need to dominate if Villa are to stand any chance of cutting off Liverpool’s supply line.
Tyrone Mings – Leads the Villa defence in what is likely to be a pretty thankless task – though Liverpool’s strikers were off the pace in mid-week.
Two draws, against Sheffield United and Newcastle United, are Villa’s only points on their returns. It was goalless at Bramall Lane and Ahmed El Mohamady equalised late on at St James Park. Last time out, Villa lost 1-0 at home to Wolves.
Defenders:Ahmed El Mohamady, Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Neil Taylor
Defensive Midfielders:Douglas Luiz
Attacking Midfielders:Anwar El Ghazi, Conor Hourihane, John McGinn, Jack Grealish
Liverpool won 2-1 in their first Premier League game against Villa since the latter’s relegation in 2016 - season in which Liverpool won 6-0 at Villa Park. Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane scored late goals in a comeback win, after Trezeguet had put Villa in front. The two teams also met in the Carabao Cup, but it was a youthful Liverpool side due to the clash with the Club World Cup – the Reds forced to play a similar team to that used in the previous rounds. The end result was a 5-0 Villa win with Conor Hourihane, an own goal, Jonathan Kodjia (two) and Wesley the goalscorers.
Liverpool have a point to prove, after a humbling defeat in their first game as champions when they took on Manchester City at the Etihad.
The Reds were crushed 4-0 and it could have been more, with Jurgen Klopp’s side so far off the pace and completely dominated by Kevin de Bruyne’s midfield performance.
But they take on relegation-battling Aston Villa as big favourites to get back to winning ways and celebrate their first game back at Anfield as champions in style.
Even without their fans, this is Liverpool’s home fortress and 23 consecutive home wins in the league proves that.
Villa have a relegation fight, whereas Liverpool are motivated only by pride, but the Reds are still big favourites.
Villa’s record of no wins in nine in all competitions shows what Dean Smith’s side need to improve on and they lack the attacking firepower to make that correction.
At the other end, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will expect to produce much more than they did last time out.
The defence must improve too, but Villa’s lack of a potent attacking threat will hamper the visitors’ chances of exploiting any lingering lack of morale following the loss at City.
Liverpool are favourites to bounce back, and it would be a surprise if they did not.
Liverpool are big favourites to win this game and they can be backed at 7/20 to win with 888sport.
With Villa lacking an attacking threat, Liverpool to win to nil returns a generous 7/5 with Betfair and Paddy Power.
You can also bet against both teams to score at 5/7 with 10Bet.
Mo Salah is a best price of 5/6 to score a any time with Ladbrokes, while Sadio Mane can be backed at 21/20 with Ladbrokes.
Liverpool need to bounce back after their humbling defeat last time out, but this is a good opportunity to do that.