Liverpool, despite the appointment of Jurgen Klopp in October, have not been able to challenge the top four and have, in fact, slid to the 11th position in the EPL standings. However, they have a chance of moving up to the eighth place if they manage to defeat Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
On paper, Liverpool should be a huge favourite to clinch their away game, but with Aston Villa in the relegation zone, they are expected to give it their all against the Reds in front of their home crowd.
Liverpool, who lost against West Ham in the FA Cup replay during the week, played Philippe Coutinho from the start and brought Daniel Sturridge from the bench, which are encouraging signs for the club. The duo is expected to start against Aston Villa and play an important role in the offensive end. Liverpool look a decent offensive unit with Roberto Firmino also playing quality football of late.
However, Christian Benteke, who was bought by Liverpool in the summer, has been a major disappointment. The former Aston Villa player was heavily criticised for his performance against West Ham where he missed a number of golden chances to score a goal.
Manager Klopp defended his striker, who could once again start from the bench against his former club.
"I can do a lot of things but at the end, like always, it is not only about Christian. The last and most important help comes from the player himself. I saw really good signs at West Ham. In not the easiest part of his career, he really fought and having this number of opportunities is a good sign. If he had no opportunities then it would be a much bigger problem. Of course it is not too easy, that's how it is," Klopp was quoted as saying in club's official website.
But, Liverpool also need to be assured on the back. They blew a 2-0 lead against Sunderland. It remains to be seen the defensive formation Klopp opts as Lucas Leiva played an impressive central defensive role against West Ham in the FA Cup. With central defenders Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren not available due to injuries, it will not be a huge surprise if Lucas is picked by Klopp for the same role.
Irrespective of the players that will be picked by Klopp for the Sunday game, they need to be on top of their game. Villa, who are set to be egged on by their home crowd, looked a better side in their last fixture against Norwich City where they emerged victorious. Such victory will give them the much needed confidence to face teams like Liverpool.
Though Aston Villa are struggling with 16 points from 23 games, they do have those players, who can make life difficult for Liverpool. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Charles N'Zogbia are the two biggest threats for Liverpool on Sunday.
Where to watch EPL live
Aston Villa vs Liverpool is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. GMT (9:05 a.m. ET, 7:35 p.m. IST) start. Live TV coverage of the Aston Villa vs Liverpool EPL game in India will be on Star Sports 4/HD,while the match can also be watched via live streaming online on Hotstar and Starsports.com.
Aston Villa vs Liverpool EPL game will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports 1/HD with live streaming on Sky Go.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast the Aston Villa vs Liverpool EPL game in the US, while the action can also be live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.