Liverpool suffered another setback in the 2020/21 season in midweek as the fell to a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie.
The Reds were punished for a poor first half performance but will take heart from an improved showing after the break.
Before a vital second-leg on Wednesday, Jurgen Klopp’s focus must temporarily turn back to the Premier League where they face Aston Villa at Anfield.
As well as having the aim to end a club record six league defeats in a row on home soil, the champions will also be keen to keep up the chase for a top-four finish.
After wins at Wolves and Arsenal, the Reds are just three points behind fourth placed West Ham United with eight matches remaining.
But if Liverpool are to have a chance of leapfrogging into those European places over the weekend they will have to secure a first home win in nine Premier League matches against a side which thrashed them 7-2 back in October.
Although Klopp will be determined to end a tough domestic campaign on a high, he will have one eye on having his best team available for a crucial return leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
So what line-up will the German select at Anfield? Here’s our predicted Liverpool XI to take on Aston Villa…
Despite suffering his worst season in a Liverpool shirt to date, Alisson is the undisputed number 1 and will continue between the sticks against the Villans. The Brazilian missed the thrashing at Villa Park as Adrian had to pick the ball out of his net seven times.
Liverpool’s defence was well of the standard in the defeat against Madrid in midweek with poor performances across the backline. Despite that, Klopp could stick with the same back-four as he may want to rebuild their confidence. The German also has very limited options. This means Trent Alexander-Arnold, Nathaniel Phillips, Ozan Kabak and Andrew Robertson could be tasked with keeping Villa out.
Many were surprised to see Naby Keita start ahead of Thiago in Madrid and it seems to be a decision Klopp may have changed if he had another chance as he replaced Guinean with the Spaniard in the first half. But it could be that neither start against Villa with Thiago very much needed in the upcoming second-leg. This could mean that James Milner and Curtis Jones come into the midfield to play alongside Fabinho. Georginio Wijnaldum, who skippered the side in midweek, may also be given a rest ahead of Wednesday.
Mo Salah has been by far and away Liverpool’s top forward this term but, after netting his 27th goal of the season in Madrid, it’s unlikely Klopp will risk him against Villa ahead of the second-leg. This could see Xherdan Shaqiri get an opportunity, while Roberto Firmino is also set for a recall ahead of Diogo Jota. On the left, Sadio Mane should continue to start as he hunts for a ninth Premier League goal of the season but first since late January.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Aston Villa: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Jones, Shaqiri, Mane, Firmino.
Can Liverpool secure a vital three points, end a dismal run at Anfield, and secure a confidence boost ahead of their biggest match of the season?